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 23 Section 2
This is the meaning of the verse, "It is your sins that separate you from your G-d" (Isaiah 59:2); Kelipa which results from sin clothes the soul and stands between it and G-d, preventing the flow of light. This idea is hinted at in the Talmud: "We learn that the snake came upon Eve and imparted zuhama [spiritual dirt] to her." (Avoda Zara 22b )
...the snake came upon Eve and imparted zuhama [spiritual dirt] to her.
This was the case for Adam as well, and all his descendants after him until the days of Moshiach, since they [their souls] were included in Adam at the time of the sin. Thus all people die "because of the bite of the snake," since all were affected by the zuhama. Nevertheless, not all souls are equal, because every soul was blemished according to its proximity to the sin.
What does it mean that the snake imparted zuhama to her? Remember the snake at this point walked upright and had two hands. There are midrashim that say that Eve had sexual relations and that the zuhama was his sperm in her womb. From this came her first born Cain. The midrash teaches that Adam also had repeatedly had relations with the female aspect of the snake who has the Name Lilith which we also call LL. Some of these midrashim about Adam relate that the relations were in the form of wet dreams, others describe it in the more traditional sense of intimacy. Some describe these has how the creation of various life forms within the 7 inner earths took place. Also one needs to realize that Hevel and Cain were twins. This is why the midrash teaches that 2 lay down and 7 got up. Two lay down is usually thought of as Adam and Eve. Another interpretation is that the two are the snake and Adam and Eve in unity with each other and with the male and female aspects of the snake. For your information the 7 are Adam and Eve since HaShem separated them in the bed and Cain with his one soul mate and Hevel with his 2 soul mates.
Some limbs were more directly involved in the sin than others, and so were damaged more. E.g., the hands actually took the fruit, the mouth ate it, whereas the chest only derived nourishment.
chanoch adds: i was recently asked what is the generation's tikune since we are all or mostly all coming from the left heel of Adam. One of our answers is in the commentary by Rabbi Auerback above. the heel derived nourishment from the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil. Also the heel is the foundation of the body and as such participated to some extent with every other part of the body's actions since we learn from our modern army teachings that if the action or order received is not proper it is not to be done. The heel as the foundation of the body could have collapsed and not allowed the body to move forward to pick the fruit.
However, all sins that people perform on their own, that is, other than the one that Adam committed, draws kelipa to them, depending upon the severity of the sin committed. However, a person’s teshuvah can push away the zuhama that came to him because of his sin, even in the case of very serious sins.
We are in the second of the second weeks of comfort - the Parasha of Ekev which means heel. This is something to realize about our own souls since most of us are coming from the left heel of Adam. Comfort is a code word for Teshuvah. We need to develop a list of items that we need to do Teshuvah about. i suggest you use this week to develop your list. The list of sins that are said in the Vadui prayer from the Rosh HaShanah Prayer is a good place to start to develop your list. There is a list of meditations on the Yeshshem Website called Meditations for the month of Elul is also helpful in developing the list. These items are general and our lists need to be specific as to the events and the actions. Yet the lists help us to review our year and remind us of things that we have done incorrectly with other people. As the last three items on your list i suggest the following: Hatred for no reason; Loshon Harah; and receiving benefit and nourishment from the Sin of Adam and Chava.
The dirt and the kelipot that bond with all souls as a result of the sin of Adam are not affected by teshuvah, necessitating death to rectify the defect. For even though G-d accepted Adam’s teshuvah and granted him atonement, nevertheless the zuhama and kelipa remained with him as when he sinned. It only separates from us at death, since he committed a very serious crime, for many reasons that we will not explain here.
chanoch adds: The ARIzal tells us that we can not do Teshuvah for the Sin of Adam. Yet when we strive to do this it helps to make the process in Gehinom and / or the dying process to be sweetened - meaning less painful and less suffering, and more merciful.
This is the secret of those who died [only] from the bite of the snake: Benjamin, Yishai, Kilav [one of David's sons – Ed.], Levi, and Joshua bin Nun who did not participate in the sin of the calf, as the Zohar says (Zohar I 53a, Shabbat 55b). In other words, even though they did not commit any sins, they still had to die, since the kelipa and zuhama adhered to them as a result of Adam’s sin and only leaves at death. This is also the secret of what the Sages mean when they refer to the zuhama of the snake that was imparted to Adam and Eve.
We need to explain why death causes a separation of the kelipot from man. First of all, kedushah [holiness] is called life. As it says, "See! I place before you life and good" (Deut. 30:15), and, "Those who adhere to G-d your L-rd - all of you are alive today" (Deut. 4:4). This is because it is G-d who gives sustenance and food to all of his creations.
...the kelipa cannot leave him until he dies...
However, the sitra achra, which removes [flow] from creations, is called death, as it says [in the former verse], "and death and evil". Thus when a person sins, he draws the sitra achra, called death, towards him. Therefore the kelipa cannot leave him until he dies, when the flesh rots in the soil. Then the kelipa that was tied to him leaves along with the kelipa from the zuhama that was imparted to Adam and Eve.
chanoch adds: The reason that the Klipah can not leave until the flesh rots in the soil is that the Klipah receives sustenance from the light that it surrounds and covers. Thus the Klipah continues to receive sustenance even when we consider the person and body dead. The Klipah can still receive sustenance from the Light within the flesh. In other words "there is no disappearance in spirituality" means that there is still a Reshimah or an imprint within the Flesh of the Light that was revealed earlier. The Klipah continues to "feed" off of this Reshimah until it is no longer able to "feed." Then it moves away to find other sources of "food."
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
Chapter 23 Section 3
Now you can understand the concept of 'chibut hakever' [torments of the grave]. After a person dies and is buried in the dust of the earth, four angels immediately arrive and deepen his grave to the height of the man1, as it says in treatise Perek Chibut Hakever. Then they restore his soul to his body just like during his lifetime, since the kelipa remains connected to both.
It is questionable if this expanding the grave applies in an absolute, physical sense or the spiritual sense.
Then these angels take him by the corners and shake and beat him with fire...
This based on the idea of a verse about the world-that-is-coming, “He will grasp the corners of the earth and shake the wicked off from it...” (Job 38:13).
Then these angels take him by the corners and shake and beat him with fire - just as a garment is held from the ends and shaken to remove dust - until the kelipa leaves him completely. This is called chibut hakever, which is like the beating and shaking of a garment. They deepen the grave in order to create an area within which to shake and beat him.
However, the judgment is not the same for everyone. Righteous people distance themselves from the yetzer hara during their lifetimes and humble themselves and use their suffering as self-affliction. Torah and mitzvot as well weaken the kelipot until the day comes for them to die. Such righteous people do not need much suffering, just a minor beating to separate the yetzer hara from them.
chanoch adds: The ARIzal changed the word (or the translater did) from Klipah to Yetzer HaRah. These are two different concepts. The Yetzer Harah is an Angel that was injected into human beings as an effect of Adam's sin. The midrash says that these 2 Angels (The Yetzer HaRah and the Yetzer Tov) were originally supposed to be born with each human being and act as his servants while he acted as HaShem's servant until he matured into being a son of HaShem. This is one of the mistakes made by the Catholic Church. A klipah is a shell that conceals Light.
It is just the opposite for evil people. Through indulging in the pleasures of this world they become even more strongly connected to the kelipa of their bodies and souls. This is the secret of why a person is not saved from chibut hakever, as mentioned in Perek Chibut Hakever.
...there is no other way to remove and rectify other than through death and chibut hakever.
As we said regarding those people who died only because of the bite of the snake, there is no other way to remove and rectify other than through death and chibut hakever. The only exception is for those people mentioned in Perek Chibut Hakever who performed certain mitzvot which accomplish this. However, the rest require chibut hakever and it is only a question of how much will be necessary. Each person receives what he needs based upon the level of his kelipa and the extent to which it adheres to him.
However, even for those people who do not require chibut hakever, having performed specific mitzvot that remove the kelipa without the need for suffering after death, death is still inevitable, as we mentioned regarding those who died from the "bite of the snake."
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
Chapter 23 Section 4
I heard from my teacher that all who are buried on Friday from the fifth hour onward do not have to undergo chibut hakever [torments of the grave]. This is because the holiness of Shabbat itself separates the kelipa from these people without any pain. This is the secret of 'something extra' on the sixth day (Ex. 16:22) - for from the fifth hour onward the holiness of Shabbat begins to shine.
All the worlds rise on Shabbat to a higher station in the spiritual structure. They start this ascent on Friday from the fifth hour. This is why G-d made Adam at that time (Sanhedrin). For the goal is that man should ascend to the perfect Shabbat state.
In order to prepare for the additional Sabbath sanctity, there is a custom to immerse in purifying mikveh water on Friday. This can be done from the fifth hour. (Shaar HaKedushat Shabbat)
Shabbat means that a process of unity takes place between Malchut and Zeir Anpin. This unity is a process of the rising of the 10 Sefirot of the female Queen to become equal to the 9 Sefirot of the male - Zeir Anpin. This is the meaning behind the idea of guarding Shabbat. Since the unification completes at the moment of Shabbat there is empty space where Malchut used to occupy. This empty space is the meaning of the 2000 cubit walk beyond the limits of the city. The process of unification takes place over a 7 hour period. The reason for this 7 hour period is related to our physicality. We need the process as we would be unable to handle an immediate elevation. It would be too traumatic for our bodies.
This is why the evil forget their name, as mentioned above [in section 1]. As we have already explained, every soul in the world is clothed in kelipa i.e., the zuhama of the snake. That kelipa is the secret of the yetzer hara with which a man is born. For as a result of Adam’s sin, the yetzer hara became ingrained in him - they became mixed together like dough. This is the secret of why the yetzer hara has such ability to cause a person to sin - he is a complete 'master of the house' in the body of man. (Talmud)
The evil inclination is especially identified with the leavening in the dough. (Brachot)
The Yetzer HaRah enters a body at birth while the Yetzer Tov enters at in the 13th year (12 years + 1 day) for a girl and at age 13 for a boy. This is also why the Yetzer haRah is the master of the house. There is no other voice speaking for those 13 years.
Another comment: Dough rises due to Yeast. Yeast represents the ego which rises and puffs itself up even if there is no merit. When there is ego there is no room for HaShem chas v'shalom. That is why the Sages relate dough which has yeast mixed within to the Yetzer HaRah which is the ego within the body.
We have already explained that not all kelipot are the same, since every kelipa is an evil spark from the sitra achra, a specific aspect of the 248 limbs of Adam Bliya’al of impurity, like the limbs of Adam d’Kedushah. And, just like every soul has a specific name based upon its level within the limb from which it was hewn, as The Sages say regarding the verse, "'Who has wrought shammot [devastation] in the land' (Psalms 46:9): Don’t read 'shammot' but rather 'shaimot'" [meaning names]". Likewise, each spark from the side of the kelipot has its own name. And so the yetzer hara of one person is not like the yetzer hara of another person.
The traditional words of the Scriptures are given within two traditions: one as to the letters of the words and one as to which vowel signs the letters have (Sukkot). There are places where the oral tradition reveals that certain words also bear vowels different than the strict tradition. This opens place for the one verse to convey multi-meanings/interpretations. (Brachot 7b)
chanoch adds: The Kabbalah teaches that each word also needs to be permutated as well. These permutations and vowels truly bring multiple meanings and interpretations in addition to these specific general ideas. This usually is presented in a Hebrew Tanach only in the Hebrew and usually no attempt is made to give the English translation this emphasis.
After someone is born and named by his father and mother, it is not by chance [which name is given], for G-d places in the mouth [of the parent] the name that suits that soul. As it says, "names in the land," based upon the limb within the upper man from which it was taken. This name itself is imprinted above on the holy throne, as is known. This is why the Sages say what they do regarding the names of converts, and why Rebbe Yehoshua ben Korchah and Rebbe Meir used to check names.
For all of the souls are as if hewn out of the Divine throne (Midrash). Accordingly, their names are there with them.
The souls of proselytes were at Sinai (Midrash). Therefore, God also set their names on His throne. Their names are retrieved and revealed at the time of the conversion. (Brachot 7b.)
The essence of the person is included in his name. Even though many people share the same name, each name has varied aspects. Each one draws and relates to the aspects pertinent to his soul root (Baal Shem Tov). These sages that checked names and made inferences knew the secret of how a person is connected to his given name. (Talmud)
Yeshshem teaches that one needs to permutate his Name to see the possible attributes associated with that Name and then decide which attributes they want to emulate and reinforce and which they want to remove and strive to stop from manifesting in thier life.
God created a corresponding reality with respect to this as well. Therefore just as there is for a person a pre-determined name from the side of holiness, given to him by his father and mother at the time of his brit milah [ritual circumcision], likewise there is an established name from the side of the kelipot - the yetzer hara that enters the person at birth.
The yetzer hara name comes first at birth, while the holy name comes on the eighth day at the brit. Just as in general the yetzer hara itself comes at birth, and the yetzer tov [good inclination] does not fully enter until maturity, at the bar mitzvah. G-d created darkness before light and set the drama theme in creation. (Shabbat)
One does not need to study or permutate the Name of the Klipah until one has their Yetzer HaTov Name settled into their bodies. It is only after maturity at the age of 20 that one should endeavor to find both of his soul names.
Hence, every person possesses two names, one from the side of holiness and one from the side of kelipa. If a person while living in this world is able to ascertain and know the name of the kelipa within him, he can thereby know from which level within Adam Bliya’al (negative Adam) it was taken. In this way, he can understand his defect and the tikun [rectification process] he requires. This would then make rectification simpler and separation from the kelipa possible during his lifetime, as opposed to after death through chibut hakever.
Therefore, when a righteous person dies, there is no need to ask him his name from the sitra achra, since during his lifetime he worked hard and withstood suffering to separate the kelipa from himself. This makes the separation through chibut hakever easier.
However, an evil person does just the opposite, instead causing the kelipa to bond with him. This necessitates much beating and great punishment to carry out separation through chibut hakever. If he had come to know the name from the sitra achra during his lifetime, he could have easily rectified it then. Instead, he must receive intense beatings for not having come to know the name during his lifetime - for not bothering to investigate what it was. He didn’t care to work hard as the righteous person did.
The point is that one must constantly take spiritual inventory, examining and taking stock of thoughts/words/actions. God reciprocates to one who shows such interest by granting him self-knowledge. The more he examines and tries to fix himself, the more that is revealed to him. This will lead to one knowing exactly what they need to repair, and then how to repair it.
chanoch adds: There are two tools to use with respect to determine these two Names. One is a dream question and the other is the Hebrew Goral. If you are interested in learning about these techniques write to chanoch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
Chapter 23 Section 5
(Shmuel [son of Rabbi Chaim Vital] says: I found another very good introduction to chibut hakever [torments of the grave], and this is what it says:) We have explained the matter of chibut hakever previously. We have also mentioned that, as a result of the sin of Adam, there was a combining of good and evil in all souls, as we explained already with respect to Cain and Abel.
This is the secret of the verse, "and Adam called names" (Gen. 2:20). For just as they have souls from holiness, likewise have they names from souls in kelipa. This is so because when Adam sinned through the tree of knowledge he caused souls to be taken from the side of impurity, just as it occurs from the side of holiness.
The partial verse quoted is a good example of how one needs to think out of the box to truly learn from the Torah. This verse is referring to Adam calling out the Names of the Animals. This calling out the Names we are taught by the Sages refers to Adam looking at each animal and giving it a name that represents its true internal nature using the Hebrew letters and language. In this teaching from the ARIzal we learn that the partial verse reveals how that person can learn about his two Names. One from the side of Holiness and one from the side of the Klipah.
I have already explained that in the world of Asiya, evil overcomes good since there they are intermingled. However, in the world of Yetzira, they are equal, and in the world of Beriya, good overcomes evil and they are no longer combined.
There are people who have [only] a nefesh from malchut of Asiya of the kelipot, and there are people who have an [entire] NR"N from the kelipot. However, one who does not perform that much evil has [clearly] not received a neshama from the kelipot. He can achieve rectification through teshuvah and by reincarnating into this world and undergoing punishment.
[When the former is the case,] they will be like Jeravam ben Nevat and similar, of whom it is said, "they have no portion in the world-that-is-coming". (Sanhedrin 1:2) That is, rather than have their souls elevated above as Mayim Duchrim, through an upper unification of Abba and Imma who are called the 'world-that-is-coming'; they will ascend only on the level of Mayim Nukrim through a unification of Zu"N.
This explanation settles the question of what about their mitzvot?! And don't all souls have a portion in the world-that-is-coming? (Ibid. 1:1) Rather, they certainly are rewarded for whatever good they did. But certain terrible things they did caused their mitzvot not to be able to elevate them to the highest connection above that which they should have merited.
Mitzvot are drawn from a towering source, way above our world. It is fitting for one who fulfilled them in life to ascend in death to the transcending levels of Abba and Imma. In general, because they are a step beyond, one must give whole self over in order to activate those levels. There are places in prayer that are geared to arouse them. Those places need to be recited accompanied by willingness and intention to give one's very life over for the Divine honor. (Shaar HaKavanot Kri'at Shema)
chanoch adds: One of the places in prayer is the Shema Israel. One needs to utilize the statement of unity to have the Kavanah that they are willing to die Kiddush HaShem to sanctify God's Name. By meditating on the 4 types of deaths authorized within the Torah one will not have to experience any of those deaths, according to the Talmud and the ARIzal.
This does not work for one who was sunk extra deep into physicality. They can only rise to be included in Zu"N - the partzufim from which our world is drawn.
Everything we do below awakens a reciprocal reaction above. Positive actions awaken unifications above. When a person dies, the sum total of all his mitzvot bond and make a grand awakening above. (Zohar Chayei Sara) His soul ascends to be included in this collective unification and derives great delight from it.
However, someone who has NR"N from the kelipot must have their bones rot and eat their flesh. This is the secret of Ruth and Orpah, the latter being the one who returned to her people and her god. (Ruth 1) This is also the secret of the verse, "The fool clasps his hands together and has nothing to eat but his own flesh." (Eccl. 4:5) They destroy themselves, and in order to separate from this [evil] soul they require chibut hakever.
The story can be understood as a parable: Ruth, the holy soul, separates from Orpah, the unholy soul. (Zohar Ruth)
Since he caused himself to become worm food by living a selfish life, it is as if he eats himself, just like the saying, “he's eating himself alive.”
Even in the land of Israel, a minor amount of chibut hakever is necessary. For it [the bad soul] is already separate from one born in the land of Israel. Nevertheless, it will depend upon the actions of a person, whether they are good or evil.
The intrinsic sanctity of the Land of Israel grants the soul a head-start in purity. Nonetheless, "[The status of] all is [determined] according to the abundance of [one's] actions." (Pirkei Avot)
If one is jealous regarding spiritual matters, [his spiritual station] is as the Sages have written: "A man only becomes jealous over his wife when a spirit of zealotry enters him." (Sota 3a)
"There is no [true] love without jealousy." (Zohar III Naso) A mate feels his partner inside his intrinsic self. From this place he is jealous.
"Jealousy of scholars increases wisdom." (Baba Basra 21a) There is a form of positive jealousy: when someone sees a good quality in someone else and wants to also attain it - without begrudging the other. One feels the good he sees on the outside as being something that is really within, just not manifest.
However, if one is jealous regarding worldly matters - that is a function of the outside forces. As a result his bones will have to rot [to be cleansed of their attachment to the kelipot].
The soul needs to be cleansed of all negative qualities in order to attain its ultimate perfection. (Sefer HaLikutim and Shaar HaGilgulim, parashat Bechukotai) However, jealousy comes from an especially deep place within - the essence. For one who is jealous feels that something belonging to someone else is really his - he feels a part of himself in it and it reaches his essence.
The word for bone, 'etzem', also means essence. The bones are the essential essence of the body. Therefore, only they are left at the end of the death process. From them the body is to be rebuilt at the time of the resurrection. (Talmud) And in them rests the last, lowest piece of the soul that stays below. (Zohar) Improper jealousy defects them, requiring them too to deteriorate in order to cleanse the soul and allow such a person to also eventually be rebuilt.
Similarly, the luz (the primary bone for resurrection) of one who does not bow and say thanks to G-d is turned into a snake. (Baba Kama) Appreciation is also an intrinsic root quality. One who lacks it needs a root cleansing in order to become fit for resurrection.
Death and the bones rotting comes because of the “dirt of the snake” injected into them by the original sin. By the giving of the Torah, this innate impurity ceased. The people would have remained immortal had they not sinned again by making the Golden Calf. (Shabbat)
Thus, the first thing to do upon awakening from sleep is to thank G-d (Orach Chaim 1).
chanoch adds: This appreciating HaShem by saying the Modeh Ani is a method to set the tone of our day to constantly strive for appreciation.
We find this regarding what is said about Rav Achai bar Yeshaya, based upon the verse, "But envy is [causes] rotting of the bones." (Proverbs 14:30) For jealousy regarding worldly matters causes the bones to rot and "like a garment AS"h [a moth] shall devour them." (Isaiah 50:9)
This is the secret of the matter: There are Sh"A/370 שע lights on the side of holiness. (Zohar III Idra Raba) [At times, another 8 encompassing lights are added to them. (Ibid., Shaar Ruach HaKodesh, 'Yichud D'chivarti')] When they become 378 שעח it totals the words chashmal [fiery radiance (Chagiga 13a)] and 'malbush' [clothing]. This is because the 378 lights become like clothing and a covering that envelopes the four worlds, ABY"A, as a result [of which], the outside forces have no power over them.
The intense radiation of the upper triad shines to the power of hundreds. The lesser lower seven shine to the power of tens. When they all smile and radiate, 370 brilliances grace the world - providing much love and mercy.
At times of extra favor, another "eight white lights" shine from the 'skull' of keter. This provides a kind of spiritual lightning [chashmal] that the worlds don as a garment which provides extra protection.
It is well-known that four garments enclothe the worlds ABY"A, and each garment [progressively down the ladder] is denser than the other. The thickest of all belongs to Asiya, since that [being the lowest area] is the principle place that the kelipot latch onto.
And just as there are 370 Lights on the side of holiness, so are there also on the side of the chitzonim [outside forces]. They are called the opposite: ASh. This is the secret of the verse, "like a garment, ASh [a moth] will devour them" - a devouring moth is the one who eats and causes the bones to rot.
They come from the opposite side of 370, the grand Divine smile - which is a frown. This turns life of life, the body living on posthumously, to death of death: Not only does one die, his remains further deteriorate.
It will help to understand the idea of the Hebrew words associated with these numbers in the Hebrew letters. Shin Ayin is 370. This can be translated as "fire of the eye" or "fire of wisdom." In the other direction Ayin Shin means "moth." When it becomes Shin Ayin Chet or 378 the word transforms into an hour which is connected to time which is mercy. Chibut HaKever relates to fire in the grave. This is the opposite of wisdom.
Hence is there also a concept of 'tolai'a' [a worm] from the side of holiness in the secret of "tola’as shani" [scarlet wool] (Ex. 25:4) and in the secret of, "Fear not tola’at Ya’akov [the worm of Jacob]." (Isaiah 41:14) Its letters form the name ABGYT"Ts (chanoch adds: Alef Bet Gimmel Yood Tav Tzadi, which has the gematria of tola’a. This is the secret of the [first row and] chesed-[name] that is in the seven [six-letter sub-] names of the 42-letter name. And it [also hints to] the "kohen" [priest, who is rooted in chesed], of whom it says, "VNTN/V’natan [and give] to the kohen the foreleg and cheek." (Deut. 18:3) The word "v’natan" also has the [same] gematria of the name we mentioned [tola’a = 510] and that of the word ShR/shor [ox], of which the Talmud writes, "a black ox in the month of Nissan". (Brachot 33a) For the 42-Letter Name is one of strong gevurot (Eitz Chaim) [and the ox is rooted in the left side above, the source of gevurot].
“And the face of the ox to the left” (Ezekiel 1:10)
Scarlet wool was used for the curtains of the Sanctuary, the place where the 370 lights are most manifest. (Zohar) "Our father Ya'akov never died." (Ta'anit 5b) He reached a level of perfection that transcended mortality. Consequently, even though his offspring must pass through death, they have a special imprint of holiness in them that protects. Therefore does the verse ensure the 'worm of Ya'akov' of his safety and that there is no need to harbor worries.
This innate imprint of immortality led the Children of Israel to be able to reach freedom from death by the giving of the Torah. (Shabbat Ch. 7) And, even though they lost this plateau, an uplifting impression always remains. (Avoda Zara)
The seven sub-names of the 42-letter name parallel the seven sefirot. Accordingly, the first row is chesed, the energy that the 370 protecting lights emanate. In souls, kohen comes from chesed. (Zohar III Emor) The motion of chesed is giving, hence giving mentioned by the kohen shares the gematria of the chesed name. Even though it actually refers to the portion that G-d commands the rest of the people to give to the kohen - this itself: Because the kohen gives so much, he is rewarded and granted special gifts.
As we know the first verse of the Ana Bekoach - the letters have a gematria of 506. when we add HaKabel or the desire - gematria of 137to 370 we get a total of 507 which is the first verse gematria with the colel. The lesson here is that to reach Chesed or Loving Kindness as a personal attribute we need to grow our desire to be close to HASHEM since "the desire" is to be close to HaShem.
Why then is the next link to the infamous ox, a creature who embodies the left side of Gevurah? In order for the light of Chesed/Giving to be true, it must be contained in a fitting restricting Gevura/Restraint vessel. Part of expanding in giving involves constricting to preserve giving and keep it in context and good. If someone wants mustard on a sandwich, don't deliver a whole barrel to his table! Even though something, let us say steak, is the best food, limit your giving and feed the baby you love baby food.
And so, even though "the world is made for Chesed" (Psalms 89:3), it comes garbed in Gevurah. The world was made with the 42-letter name. (Zohar I Breishit, Tikunei Zohar) Its initial row comes, of course, from Chesed. But as a whole it stems from Gevurah.
This all explains the association train of concepts mentioned in this paragraph.
Correspondingly, there is the concept of a 'worm' on the side of the kelipot. One that eats the flesh of the dead in the grave, of which it says, "The fool holds his hands together and has nothing to eat but his own flesh." (Eccl. 4:5) And, "If it [sin] will be tolai'a [red as crimson], it shall become [white] as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
However, one who is righteous in this world can rectify everything during his lifetime, as we saw with respect to Rav Achai bar Yeshaya, who was never jealous over worldly matters - a jealousy that stems from the kelipot. Therefore, neither death nor tolai'a [worms] nor ASh [a moth] had any effect on him. As King David wrote, "Even my flesh will dwell in safety." (Psalms 16:9) To the extent that you have four people who, even though they died, did so only because of the bite of the snake [but their flesh remained safe - free of chibut hakever and decapitation].
As a reminder the process of the soul leaving the body as revealed in the last few chapters is as follows: The person - Neshamah sees the Light of the Shechina and leaves the body to cleave to that Light. The Ruach wonders between the grave and the home during the week of Shivah. The Nefesh remains with the body until the final decomposition. As long as the Nefesh remains with the body the Klipah is being fed energy and thus it remains. The experience of Kivut HaKever or the beating in the grave is with swords or sticks of fire which is painful to the soul and motivates the Ruach and Nefesh to leave the body.
We can escape this drastic painful process by becoming righteous in our lifetime. We can escape this drastic painful process by studying Torah and then Living Torah. We can lesson the painful process by choosing to let go of all physicality while living.
[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]
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