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.
Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher
Chapter 16 Section 1
Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher
Doing Mitzvahs unite one with the Body of the King
Man is a microcosm of the universe (Zohar). He is modeled after the Divine image. By way of anthropomorphism and spiritual parable, the mitzvahs are called as if "limbs of the king" (Zohar). Doing them unites one with the body of the king (Tanya). Each limb of the soul is modeled after a Divine limb, so to speak, i.e., a mitzvah. Doing the mitzvahs connects every limb with its source. This enlivens the soul and makes it shine. A person must somehow or another fulfill all the mitzvahs in order to have the complete connection to G-d through all the channels of the self that he was created to attain.
chanoch adds: Please be careful of this language. limb is being used in this section as body and soul parts as differentiated from sinews and ligaments. Many Kabbalah students make the mistake of being influenced by the western worlds translation of "man was created in the image of God". Image is the Hebrew word Tzelem which is also translated as shadow. Tzelem is also the meaning of Sefirot in many Kabbalists understanding of this idea. The Tikun HaNefesh supports that idea of Tzelem being the structure of the Tree of Life and the 10 Sefirot. There is much more to understand about this but not the space and time to reveal it.
However, someone whose soul is not new, but one that has reincarnated and returned to this world, only has to complete those mitzvahs it has yet to fulfill in previous gilgulim.
Thus, the fulfillment of the 613 Mitzvahs may take place over the course of all the gilgulim.
Let us understand this on a deeper level. There is a MItzvah for a King to write two Torahs. One is to be carried with him all the time. I am not a King in Israel. Yet i must do this Mitzvah at one time in my lives (plural). If i was not part of the 30 Kings of Israel then i will be part of the soul of Mashiach. This is because Mashiach is the only KIng left to be revealed in Israel. do not apply this to me chanoch only. This applies to any soul from the Tribe of Yehudah. It will apply to you as well. Either you were a King in Israel or you will be part of the soul of Mashiach when He writes his two Torahs. There are many Mitzvot that this discussion applies, not just this one.
With this we can understand why in the Talmud we learn of certain Torah scholars who were careful with respect to a particular mitzvah more than other mitzvahs, while another scholar was careful regarding a different mitzvah (Megillah 28a). For example, one Talmudic rabbi asked his colleague, "In what mitzvah was your father most careful?"…
The one who this posed question was interested in determining the tzadik's soul root and the focal point of its rectification. The more we understand about the tzadik's angle in spirituality, the more we have a handle to learn from him and to emulate his ways.
…and he answered, the mitzvah of tzitzit, or tefillin, or something of that nature.
Why does the Ari mention this? It must be that he is hinting to us the general principles upon which understanding about being careful with a certain mitzvah relative to one's tailor-made tikun has to do with.
The commandments were given to refine and heal the soul.
The commandments were given to refine and heal the soul. They do this by connecting the self to varied channels of G-d's light. The mitzvah of tefillin draws to the soul primarily an internal light, as opposed to tzitzit, which brings a surrounding light. (Shaar Hakedusha - Tefillin & Tzitzit) Internal light affects and expands the consciousness awareness. Surrounding light affects the sub-consciousness more. Depending upon the soul-root and its specific need of rectification, it will accordingly require being careful with a certain mitzvah. The mentioning of "tzitzit or tefillin, or something of that nature" comes to teach that the general principle underneath determining what one needs is either a mitzvah that brings internal light or surrounding light.
Which is cause and which effectf? A person is careful with a Mitzvah is an indication of which root of Adam his soul is from. The discussion and commentary above teaches one level. A deeper level is Tzitzit has to do with a left column lack - building a desire while Tefilin comes to draw the energy of Chesed. Neither of these explanations takes the issue sufficiiently deep to know which Mitzvah applies to which soul root of Adam and Chavah.
However, this would seem to contradict the mishna that says, "Be [as] careful with a light mitzvah as you would be with a serious one!" (Pirkei Avot 2:1). The sod is that every scholar is careful with the particular mitzvah that is missing from his previous gilgulim, either all of it, or part of it.
This means to say that even though some mitzvahs are intrinsically less important, a person may still have to give special attention to their fulfillment, more than others that are usually more important, because they may be necessary for his specific rectification.
Please do not be impacted by this comment by Rabbi Aurback. Each Mitzvah is important just as each person is important. There is none less important from the aspect of the Creator. To think this indicates how far from HaShem we are. No Mitzvah is less important than another. No Mitzvah is more important than another. Look to your body. Is your foot more or less important than your tongue? They are equally important to you. With out a tongue you can not communicate as well as with a tongue. Without a foot you can not move as easily as with a foot. Comparing the two is silly and inappropriate. It is only our need to create separation that we learn from the Satan. Grow past this and do not fall to the issue.
This is also the sod of what we find in the Talmud where one person focused on a particular character trait, while another focused on a different one. For example, they asked one person, "To what do you owe your long life?" and he answered, "All of my life I was never particular about my honor."
There are many Rabbis who were asked this and gave varied responses. The Ari brings this answer out of all of them. He also leaves out the name of the one who said it. This comes to teach that even though a certain rabbi was extra careful with this, it is something that is necessary for everyone to be especially careful about.
Honor belongs to G-d, as it says "G-d reigns, He clothed Himself in honor" (Psalms 92:1), and "…for My honor I created it" (Isaiah 43:7). The job of man is to do everything for the Divine honor. If a person tries to take honor for himself, this destroys the world and causes the Shechina to depart. As the sages teach "Anyone who is proud, G-d (then) says, "I am not able to live in the world with him'" (Talmud).
All negative qualities are rooted in some type of ego. From it comes a person's will to be exacting about his honor. One who can get past this hurdle will have a much easier time conquering all other bad qualities.
Hence, each one worked on a certain trait that remained lacking from his previous gilgulim.
Personality qualities are from the deepest expressions of the soul.
Personality qualities are from the deepest expressions of the soul. Therefore is it of paramount importance to fix them. The entire person is made up of traits. Therefore did Rabbi Nachman write his "Book of Qualities": Most people decide most of what they do from traits, more than from logic. This leaves room to rationalize. In order to be truly righteous, one must cleanse and refine the qualities. This is like polishing the soul, and makes it to shine.
There is a major difference between one whose previous soul-sparks from his soul-root fulfilled all the 613 Mitzvahs to one whose soul-sparks did not as well. We will explain this further on.
There is a reason that the ARI used just one example of a Mitzvah relating to honor and not another example. It is relating to honor as this was an issue for him. We learn this in the way he contacted his student Rabbi Chaim Vital. He was sent to Sfat to teach Rabbi Chaim Vital and it took Rabbi Chaim Vital six months to allow himself to meet the ARI since his ego got in the way. Actually Rabbi Chaim reflected an earlier issue of the ARI himself which He cleansed and by waiting for Rabbi Chaim to change and realize that here was someone for him to learn from the ARI removed aspects of this negative trait we refer to as the dust of the matter.,/P.
In Rabbi Auerbach's comments we also are told that personality traits are the deepest levels. Actually both character and personality traits are aspects of garments for the soul. Both of them are learned from the environment they have chosen to live around and the astrological influences which allows them to be led to potential changes in these traits and choosing to reveal the light. That is why we "shine" in the words of Rabbi Auerback. We change ourselves and that reconnects our soul to its root and that is why we shine. Which character traits and which personality traits do you find admirable and want to learn and apply to yourself? Which have you already learned and now want to change?
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
Chapter 16 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
If there are mitzvahs that a person is able to fulfill and the opportunity arises to do so and he does not fulfill them, or if he has the ability to bring them about and yet doesn't, then he will have to reincarnate until he completes them.
Take an opportunity to do something good when it presents itself.
It is therefore very important to take an opportunity to do something good when it presents itself. It could save having to go through a whole other lifetime!
chanoch adds: This applies to doing a negative Mitzvah as well. If you avoid doing it you may save yourself from a whole reincarnated lifetime. Also there are some Mitzvot that need to be done week by week or day by day. Lighting Shabbat Candles and Laying Tefilin are examples. If someone misses lighting Shabbat on the 1211th week of their life they will need to become an Ibur and light the Shabbat Candles on that week of a "borrowed" body.
However, regarding mitzvahs he cannot perform without G-d creating the necessary circumstances, such as redeeming the first born son, yibum or chalitza, divorce, and similar, it will depend.
For example, if G-d did create the necessary circumstances to fulfill any of them and he did not [fulfill that mitzvah], then he will have to reincarnate to fulfill which ever one he could have fulfilled but did not.
However, if the occasion did not arise to fulfill them, then he will not have to reincarnate to perform them, but rather, he will only come back b’sod ibur into a person who is undergoing that particular mitzvah and fulfill his obligation that way. Once the mitzvah has been completed, then he will return to his place.
Then there is a third level, which is the mitzvahs which cannot be performed today, such as sacrifices. Yet, we have stated that every person must fulfill all 613 mitzvahs and reincarnate until he does so! Thus, at this time he would not have to reincarnate for their sake since they cannot be performed. However, after Mashiach arrives and the Temple is re-built, may it be so speedily in our days, he will reincarnate in order to perform those particular mitzvahs .
Rebbi Yishmael, son of Elisha the High Priest, hinted to this when, after tilting the lamp on Shabbat night, he said, "I will have to record this in my ledger for when the Temple returns, so that I will then bring a substantial Sin-Offering" (Shabbat 12b).
chanoch adds: Are you recording things for which you will need to bring a sin or a guilt offering?
He accidentally did a type of lighting fire, which is forbidden on Shabbat (Ex. 35:3).
Why did he record something in order to do something that could not be done? It must be that he knew that even if the Temple would not end up being rebuilt in his days (as it wasn't) that he would someday be able to bring the sacrifice, in a reincarnation.
From the mitzvahs that are not obligatory, such as reciting Shema Yisrael or tefillin…
These mitzvahs need to be done every day – how can he speak of them as being optional? "Not obligatory" here does not mean that you don't have to do them. Rather it means that not doing them does not incur serious punishment. This is because the lack of fulfilling positive commandments is not as punishable as the transgression of negative commandments.
With all respect to Rabbi Auerback. In my opinion the word optional as it applies to these Mitzvot is correct. In later generations many of the days of an individual's life is complete as to these Mitzvot on those days. Therefore it is no longer obligatory. This is helpful to explain the idea of "the reform movements no longer requiring the laying of Tefilin and the like". Please be careful in applying this aspect to your life since it is easier to perform a Mitzvah that is not "necessary" than to miss a Mitzvah that is necessary.
…there are mitzvahs that one need not pursue, such as sending away the mother bird, or putting up a parapet [on a roof], and which he may also have been prevented from completing. However, since he was not told to pursue and fulfill them, though the person will have to reincarnate he will definitely not sin in the upcoming gilgul.
This means to say that he will be protected from heaven in that lifetime, since he only came back to fix something that was never an absolute obligation.
However, if the mitzvah did present itself and he did not want to perform it, then he must reincarnate and in this case, there will be no guarantee that he will not sin.
Since the gravity of what he did was greater, the consequences are greater. He must come back without a guarantee of being protected.
However, one who actually transgresses and is thereby forced to reincarnate will most definitely sin again.
This needs to be understood in stages: The soul is intrinsically a pure simple light. No matter what bad deeds a person falls into, it does not affect his essence. However, it does taint the external aspects of the soul. This can be compared to a brilliant diamond. Even if it falls into the mud, it still really retains its beauty. The dirt only occupies the surface and prevents the light from shining out. As soon as the dirt is cleaned off, it resumes all of its glory.
The world was created for free will. A person must therefore bear the consequences of his actions. If he soiled his soul, he comes back in that state. It is his job - and actual claim to fame - to cleanse himself. However, he must know that he's not starting with a clean slate, rather from being in the negative. Therefore he will have certainly tendencies to do bad. This is what the Ari means by saying he will sin again. The person must be strong to withstand the test.
chanoch adds: Remember the stages applies to multiple incarnations where a sin is made thereby thickening the veil over the light or the mud stopping the light. Which ever metaphor you prefer.
A person must fulfill all the 613 Mitzvahs in thought, word, and deed
Not only this, but a person must fulfill all the 613 Mitzvahs in deed, verbally, and in thought, ..
These are the three garments of the soul (Tanya). They come from the three triads of the sefirot. Thought comes from chaba"d – chachma/bina/da'at, speech comes from chaga"t – chesed/gevura/tiferet, deed comes from neh"i – netzoch/hod/yesod.
In order for the connection to be complete, it must be from all of our attributes to all of G-d's. "I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me" (Songs of Songs 6:2). Just as the simple Infinite light expresses to us, above to below, through these garments of the sefirot, so does the simple light of the soul express and connect to G-d through its counterpart clothes: thought, word, and deed, below to above.
…as the Sages have said on the verse, "This is the law for the Burnt-Offering and the Meal-Offering" (Lev. 7:37): Anyone who learns the section of the Burnt-Offering is like one who offered it (Menachot 110a). They were indicating that a person is obligated to fulfill all 613 Mitzvahs verbally, and in thought as well.
The simple explanation of this teaching is that even when there is no Temple, there is some way that we can, as if, bring the sacrifices. When you learn about something, its root energy above is activated and channeled to the world. (How much it is activated depends upon how deeply you engage in delving into it.)
The same applies to meditating. There is even some category that doing something through learning and meditation is actually higher than doing in deed. The faculty of thought is higher than that of action. Some tzadikim are so able to be focused in the world of thought that they are able to make the rectification and fulfill their obligation through thought alone. Thus we found that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was exempt from doing mitzvahs because of his exalted level of meditation and learning.
The Ari comes to point out a lesson hidden and hinted in this rabbinical teaching, that there is an obligation to do all the mitzvahs also in thought and speech. If thought and speech were only optional, they would not be powerful enough to fuel a makeshift, 'winged' fulfillment of the mitzvahs when deed is not possible.
chanoch adds: If deed is possible it must be done. If deed is done it is incomplete without word in its proper form and in thought in its complete form including the sharing consciousness associated with proaction instead of reaction.
A person must learn Torah on four levels.
If a person fails to fulfill all 613 Mitzvahs on all three levels of deed, speech, and thought, then he will have to reincarnate until he does. As well, a person must learn Torah on four levels, alluded to by the word "PaRDeS," which stands for "Peshat," "Remez," "Drash," and "Sod." He will have to reincarnate until he does.
As explained in Chapter 11, that there are four primary levels of interpreting the Torah: Pshat (simple understanding), remez (hint), drash (exegetical/allegorical/metaphorical), and sod (secret).
Learning Torah is the foundation root of all of the other mitzvahs. The comparison of the need to fulfill everything in thought word and deed to the necessity of learning the entire Torah comes to show that learning corresponds to all of the commandments (Pe'ah). The depth and breadth of the mind and heart must be connected to G-d. One does this through learning the whole Torah, to its full length and width.
chanoch adds: One can not know how to do a Mitzvah without study. If one does not study a Mitzvah on all 4 levels one can not perform a Mitzvah correctly on all three levels.
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
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