Advanced Reincarnation Class 37

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

Old and New Souls: A Review

Chapter 12 Section 1

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

We have already explained that all souls were part of Adam, and that when he sinned, his limbs "fell off" and his stature was reduced.

The key to properly understanding this is that the body is modeled after the soul. Each one of the physical parts is an embodiment of a part of the soul. The soul of Adam is a grand collective, all-encompassing entity that includes all the souls of mankind.

Sin, by definition, separates the self from G-d. Accordingly, the original sin separated the souls from their root in Adam on the side of holiness, and caused them to fall to the sitra achra.

Limbs are what a person uses to act. The limbs were used to do the sin, therefore they were primarily what fell. In some way, to a lesser degree, all the parts of the body participated, therefore something of them also fell. The Arizal mentions "limbs" because it was mostly them.

On a deeper level: It was the lower sefirot that fell in the shattering of the vessels. From them come the limbs. The sin increased the breakage, therefore the corresponding aspect within Adam "broke" and fell.

Man is created in the Divine image. This was not just a one time model. Rather, it means that there is continuous connection. All the time, everything any human being does affect a corresponding aspect of Divinity above. Sin causes that the Infinite Light is impeded, in different ways to varying degrees, in its transmission to the world. According to the nature of the defect, that part of the body that transgressed causes a complication in its root in Divinity above.

Therefore, it is specifically as if G-d's hand, the level affected by the sin, was used to reduce Adam.

chanoch's Commentary

How can man's action affect divinity above? As the Prophet tells us "I do not change" says HaShem. It is only through a mental construct created by the Sages that our actions does impact divinity above. That construct is called the Shecina. The Shecina is described as the Female aspect of HaShem. Our actions impact the Shecina.

Furthermore, we explained...

in chapter seven, section 1

...that most of the souls fell down into the depths of the kelipot, and that only a few remained with him; this is the secret of the "100 cubits" that the Sages speak about in reference to the verse, "And You laid Your hand upon me" (Psalms 139:5).

The Rabbis teach that Adam was originally the first skyscraper - he was as tall as the heavens. After he sinned, G-d placed His hand upon him and diminished his posture to a mere hundred cubits - approximately two hundred feet.

The underlying goal of the redemption process is to eventually restore man to his royal, divine privilege of full and free access to the King's palace….

This is primarily meant as an allegory to teach us what primordial man was, and what became of him. Every bit of Creation was for his sake, from top to bottom. His spirit therefore reached up and spanned from the highest heights of Atzilut to the lowest levels of where Asiya was - and then the sin diminished his connection above. He was left only with the ability to reach up to the hundred levels of the sefirot of Beriya, with only limited access to Atzilut.

The Rabbis use the anthropomorphic parable of G-d's hand that did this to express that Adam fell from Atzilut, the world that draws from the upper three sefirot, to Beriya/Yetzira/Asiya - the worlds that draw from the lower seven, which manifest primarily through the hands.

The underlying goal of the redemption process is to eventually restore man to his royal, divine privilege of full and free access to the King's palace - Atzilut, the place of only bliss (Chagiga).

chanoch's Commentary

There are 70 levels of Torah. As the commentator says above the description is allegorical. Yet it is also describing a physical world or dimension that has different physical laws from our world/dimension. In our world a man can not be 100 cubits tall. In our world the tallest human can not exceed 10 feet. In other dimensions this physical constraints can be different. We, with our consciousness are able to travel to these dimensions. We can even communicate with ourselves in these dimensions as well as other entities. When we are in these dimensions we wear the body of that dimensions. Kabbalah teaches us how to do this.

Now the Arizal will enumerate the different levels of souls within Adam's collective soul.

Originally, some new souls which had yet to come into the world were part of Adam, and these are called "authentic new souls". And below them was another level, made up of the souls that remained a part of him and which did not fall off. They are also considered to be "new", but not in comparison to the first level.

Zeir Anpin and Nukva are the root spiritual archetype that Adam and Eve are modeled after….

After the death of Adam, they were separated from him. When these souls from Level Two enter a body in reincarnation, they are still called "new". The reason being that the creation of Adam occurred as a result of an Upper Pairing [called "zivug elyon", occurring in a manner of] being back-to-back.

These concepts are enumerated elsewhere. There are two primary unifications in the partzufim, Abba and Imma, and Zeir Anpin and Nukva. The former is an upper unification, the latter a lower unification (Etz Chaim, Shaar Abba v'Imma, see Likutei Moharan 11:1). Zeir Anpin and Nukva are the root spiritual archetype that Adam and Eve are modeled after. Therefore the primal human souls needed to come from their unification.

The nature of their unification accordingly establishes the entire nature of mankind. The Arizal explains that Zeir Anpin and Nukva were originally created back to back. Nukva is the lowest level on the side of holiness; the kelipot are immediately beneath it and are as parasites that seek to suck energy and life force. The front side of Nukva emanates too much light for the kelipot to take; the only place that they are able to grab from is the back of Nukva. In order to prevent this, G-d made Zeir Anpin and Nukva back to back. The vulnerable back side of Nukva was thus protected, the bright front side that was left facing the kelipot disallowed them nourishment (Etz Chaim, Shaar Ma'N/Ma'D; Shaar A'K 8).

The proper full state of unification of any pair of partzufim is only face to face….

The proper full state of unification of any pair of partzufim is only face to face. That way the light is directly transmitted between them and flows in full force. The purpose of Creation was for humankind. The question is, couldn't G-d the Almighty have set things up in such a way that Zeir Anpin and Nukva could have unified in the highest fashion, face to face, in order to make His choice creature, who is the point of it all?

The answer is that G-d specifically positioned things like this. The stage is set for man to be born into a world of tests, where things don't flow so smoothly. The souls are brought into existence from a state of back to back, causing them to experience the divine light indirectly. Work is required to change this. Thus man is not spiritually unemployed.

There is another important lesson to be learned from the configuration of the initial unification. Here it is called the "upper" pairing. The reason for this is as follows: In truth, there can be no unification back to back. When a face to face pairing cannot occur below in the home of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, the Supernal Emanator raises them up to the place of their as if it were "parents", Abba and Imma. There, beyond the reach of the kelipot, unification can occur with no fear (ibid.).

When a person is down and out, then specifically there is a great light and inspiration that lies inside of that situation….

What comes out is that Zeir Anpin and Nukva end up uniting in a much higher place than their own. The fact that they must come to this as a means of refuge to be saved from the kelipot caused that the great light of this place did not shine to them openly. It did however plant a hidden seed. As a result, when a person is down and out, then specifically there is a great light and inspiration that lies inside of that situation. If one seeks G-d from that place, it can result in a very deep connection (Likutei Moharan 2-12).

From all of this we can begin to understand the entire idea behind the Gate of Reincarnations. Understanding in general how the souls were brought about grants insight into their general nature and purpose. Understanding specifics leads the individual to grasp details about his own soul root and what to do for its rectification. The more specifics one knows, the more one will be enabled to fix himself.

For this reason, every chapter of this work is called an "introduction". Each section features introductory principles that teach how to recognize one's soul root and, based on that, how to go about its repair.

Adam's soul was…the granddaddy of all souls….

Here, the Arizal explains the different degrees of souls in terms of their station in the original, collective soul of Adam. There are new souls and old souls, and there are rungs within each of these categories unto themselves. As the lesson progresses, we will see the significance of these categories.

Therefore, until it returns to come [into the world] when that category of Upper Pairing is face-to-face, then it is as if they have come to the world for the first time, and it is so called "new".

If, after the death of Adam, a soul does not merit to come another time into the world except during a zivug that is back-to-back, then it will still be considered to have come the first time. This is even though it did not come at a time of a face-to-face zivug, since at least it came after the death of Adam.

The first entry of Adam's soul was not considered an official one, since it is the granddaddy of all souls. The souls that follow are considered new, irrelevant of which zivug they originate from. This can be compared to the preface of a book, that is not counted as chapter One.

chanoch's Commentary

Since the translator and Commentator Shabtai Teicher passed away, he was replaced by a new commentator Peretz Auerbach. Peretz Auerback follows primarily the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. This group of Chasids are called Breslovers. Many of the things in this chapter and section were not discussed earlier and they are coming from commentaries and not directly from the Sefer Shaar HaGilgulim. This section is to read with a grain of salt whatever this metaphor means.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

New Souls: Levels Three and Four

Chapter 12 Section 2

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

(This is a continuation from Chapter 12, Section One.)

chanoch adds: Remember this is a review from what the ARI said earlier.

Below this level there is a third one, and these are the those that remained with Adam, which his sons Cain and Abel inherited when they were born. It is like Level Two because they were also part of Cain and Abel.

They are not considered to have come for the first time, since they did not come to Cain and Abel after the death of Adam, but rather they inherited them during his lifetime. Therefore, their inclusion in Cain and Abel is not even considered a first time, and instead they are considered as if they are still a part of Adam.

While the fruit is still on a living tree…it is looked at as being one with the tree….

As long as a person is alive, there is an aspect that his children are counted as part of him. After death, children are considered to be separate. This can be likened to a tree that bears fruit. While the fruit is still on a living tree, even though the fruit has its own identity, it is looked at as being one with the tree. After the tree dies, it attains a full separate identity.

The reason why children are reckoned as being part of the parents is that the parents actually give them a piece of their soul (as taught later in Gates of Reincarnations). Thus the expression: "a chip off the old block". Once the parents' soul departs to the next world, this oneness is no longer apparent.

Any of these souls that come back to the world after Cain and Abel have died, even at a time of a back-to-back zivug, will be considered to have entered the world for the first time, and would therefore be called "new". After that, when the person dies and the souls come back to the world, they are said to have reincarnated. That is, they have come back a second time.

The newer the soul is, the purer it is….

Even though this level is very similar to Level Two, still, these lesser souls which were contained in Cain and Abel are considered to be a separate level from those which remained with Adam himself. They are not considered as new as those of Level Two.

The newer the soul is, the purer it is, and the higher its energy level. New souls will be more fine-tuned to holiness, and will also be more intensely spiritual.

Level Four souls are those which fell from Adam into the depths of the kelipot and are called "old souls". This is even when they come into the world for the first time, since then they are considered to be "old souls" that have reincarnated.

The more one focuses on living from the soul, the more one transcends time….

The kelipot/Other Side is run by our good old friend the Evil Inclination/Devil/Angel of Death (the Talmud tells that they are all the same character). He is called an "old, foolish king" (Ecclesiastes 4:13). The foundational principle of his entire operation is age and oldness. He tries to make a person feel old, set in their ways, and unable to change. Everything in front of our eyes, including the body itself, heads towards death and decapitation. This comes from age taking hold and setting in. This comes from being subject to time.

The root of the soul is above time (Likutei Moharan 33:5). The more one focuses on living from the soul, the more one transcends time (Likutei Moharan 2-61). In simple terms, this means that a spiritually oriented person can more easily renew and change himself. Also, even the good things that such a person does that do not require change, he does with freshness and vigor. In addition, his consciousness is infused with enthusiasm and enabled to constantly seek to ascend to higher levels.

Someone's true age is determined by their state of consciousness….

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that a person is where his mind is. One of the many things that this means is that someone's true age is determined by their state of consciousness (ibid.). There are people who are very old that are really very young, and vice versa. The greatest youth potion is to take a dose of mind expansion. For example: Meditate on the presence of G-d, and how His omnipotence fills and permeates your being. This is one method of renewing the awareness and elevating it to a transcendent state. It draws a rejuvenating light to the soul that can invigorate the psyche and grant a true taste of what eternal life means. (Likutei Moharan 21:11)

New souls have less trouble renewing themselves. Within this category itself, the higher the class of soul, the easier it will it to find to transcend time and live in a state of indefinite, elongated youth.

Does this mean that old souls should just throw in the towel and resign themselves to a life of senior citizenship? Most certainly not! In Song of Songs, an exquisite, allegorical love song between the collective root of all souls and G-d, she (this soul of souls) says to Him, "I stored new ones, also old ones, for You, my Beloved" (Songs 7:14). "Renew as an eagle your youth" (Psalms 103:5). The lowest grade, oldest souls through acting spiritually in their bodies can be reborn as babies. Coming out of more difficulty, their renewal process is especially beloved and precious to G-d. Learn to know and understand your soul root. From that place rectify and elevate.…

After this comes Level Five, which is the lowest of all of them. These enter the bodies of converts.

Later on, the Arizal adds another piece of the puzzle and tells us that they are from Malchut, the lowest level, whereas the other souls are from Zeir Anpin, a step above. This requires clarification, because there are other places that seem to say that the souls of the converts are actually higher (Likutim 10:2,215,228).

"Not with you alone do I establish this covenant…but with he who is here, standing with us today, before G-d your L-rd, and (also) with he who is not with us today." (Deut. 29:13,14) Further on in this work, the Arizal explains that the six hundred thousand people that were present by the giving of the Torah were the embodiment of six hundred thousand grand soul roots from which all the successive souls that would be come to the world are drawn. "Not with…he who is here, standing with us" means those branches of the roots that were not yet born into the world. Also included was the soul of every convert. They were all there at the giving of the Torah, and they all entered the covenant. Their soul is born into a secular lifestyle. Its root connection to the Torah from days of yore draws it back.

Precisely in the low, far off places, lie the highest lights….

The reason why the souls of the converts must specifically come from the lowest spiritual level is in order to afford their start into a secular lifestyle. This causes that the inherent holiness in their soul is able to bear the clothing of divinity in a material oriented setting. Eventually, the innate connection surfaces and draws them to a spiritual lifestyle. If their souls would have come from a higher place, they would not be able to pass through the intermediary stage of disconnection.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Low Souls High Potentials

Chapter 12 Section 3

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

All the souls mentioned above, with the exception of Level One, which are the real new souls, are similar inasmuch as they all fell into the depths of the kelipot. However, they did not all fall to the same level.

For the Level Two souls which remained with Adam only have one blemish as a result of Adam's sin. Those which went to Cain and Abel have two blemishes: Adam's sin and the sins of Cain and Abel, which are mentioned in Sefer HaTikunim, Tikun 90.

Personalities…are an outgrowth of a person's soul root….

This is very important thing to know. Personalities are not primarily a product of environment. Rather, they are an outgrowth of a person's soul root. Each person is born with certain tendencies because of their soul's root in Adam and his sons and its position in them. For example, a soul that comes from the hand of Cain that killed Abel will be naturally tended towards violence.

All men are not created equal. G-d is "the place of the world" (Talmud). He sees each one's soul root and what headspace and place they are in. Based on this, He judges in the scale of merit and helps each person along in their rectification process (Likutei Moharan 2-8). The individual's obligation is to do his best from his unique place.

The lesson is that there is no reason to be upset if you have negative tendencies. The measure of success is determined by how much a person tries to rectify from the point that he starts from. This Gate of Reincarnations is aimed at teaching how to fathom the soul root, what it needs to fix, and how to do it.

When the time comes for a soul to leave the kelipot and enter this world, it must first come as an ibur into the "stomach of the Upper Female Malchut" in order to be purified and cleansed from the filth of the kelipot, within which they were held.

Everything below is modeled after…transcendental sources….

The "stomach of the Upper Female Malchut" is a reference to the Malchut of Atzilut from which Jewish souls are said to come. Before there can be birth through a woman in this world, the soul must be planted in and born through the supernal feminine aspect. This is a prime example of how everything below is modeled after and comes from transcendental sources.

The conception and birth process is a designed to prepare the soul for its descent to the world. A certain head start is given, and the rest is left to do throughout a lifetime.

However, the duration of time for which they remain there is not the same for each soul. Rather, it will depend upon its ability and merit to remain there until it is are purified completely and renewed.

This is the order of the five levels. With respect to the first level, the truly new souls, they can remain within the "Malchut within the secret of the fetal stage" for a period of twelve months, after which time they will descend into a body in this world. Thus, we find women whose term of pregnancy is twelve months, as mentioned in the Talmud regarding a certain incident where he remained twelve months, and Rava decided kosher.

A man had been away for twelve months after which time his wife gave birth. The question was: did she become pregnant from another man nine months earlier, or was the fetus from the husband, conceived twelve months prior to the birth? Rava decided that, without evidence to the contrary, the latter was the case (Yevamot 80b), and thus the child was legitimate and kosher. This comes to show that there is some expression in the physical world of this spiritual reality of a twelve month gestation period for the birth of the soul.

Level Two souls which remained with Adam and which are considered new to some degree have the ability to remain within the Malchut for nine months before coming into the world. Level Three souls of Cain and Abel are also considered new on some level, but they have two blemishes. As a result, they can only remain in the stomach of Malchut for a seven month period of time.

Only the higher grade souls can take more purification….

Level Four - the rest of the souls that fell off Adam down into the kelipot - even though they have left the kelipot and now descend into this world for the first time, nevertheless they are like the rest of the previous levels that have come a second time. They are considered to be old and reincarnated souls. Therefore, whether from Level Four which have come for the first time, or from the previous levels that have come for the second time or more, they only remain in the stomach of the Malchut for forty days, the time it takes to form the fetus. After that, they descend into this world.

Level Five souls, those of converts, only remain in the stomach of the Malchut for three days, the time it takes for the seed to fertilize. After that, they come into this world.

chanoch's Comments

The Talmud teaches that the soul does not come into the body until the 40th day after conception. This is the normal number of people. This is level 4. They then spend the rest of the gestation period studying the Torah that they will reveal during their life.

The Zohar (Shlach 168, Lik.2-72) teaches that their souls come from the union of the righteous, starting with Abraham and Sarah, which do not result in physical conception. Their souls are only a short time in the supernal feminine aspect; they require another step of processing to be actualized.

Depending upon the amount of time spent within the "Malchut within the secret of the fetal stage", that is how great their light will be and their purification from the effects of the kelipot.

If so, on the contrary, precisely the lower grade souls are the ones that should stay in the Malchut longer, not shorter?!

It takes stamina to bear a cleaning. Only the higher grade souls can take more purification. The lower the class soul, the less it can be refined before birth. The more it then requires purification in this world. Again, externally, these souls are worse off. In the deepest sense, these souls are the special channels through which the most awesome revelations are brought into the world.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]