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 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.
The rest of chapter 3 will not have my comments until the end of the Chapter where I will ask you to ask questions about the different types of soul connections expressed during this week.
Chapter 3 Section 6
Yibum is not like gilgul because it is for a different reason. When it comes to the rest of the sins of theTorah, rectification can be achieved through suffering in this world and after death in Gehinom (Purgatory). Thus, not all sparks of the Nefesh need to reincarnate, but they may come back only as an ibur of the type mentioned in the previous section. Only specific sparks actually reincarnate.
Rectification can be achieved through suffering, or through the performance of mitzvot. The Rav is concentrating on rectification through suffering; it seems, because of what he wants to say here about yibum.
We also learned in the last section that completely rectified sparks do not need to reincarnate, and those that are mostly rectified, but not completely, will reincarnate as an ibur from birth. Only specific sparks that are badly damaged, or have not yet undergone any tikune through gilgul, will reincarnate to become the main soul of the body.
However, yibum occurs because the person died before having children, a lack of success that makes it as if he never came into the world, as if his first body did not exist at all, as it says in the Zohar
The man left this world without leaving behind any progeny, and therefore it is as if he never existed.
Therefore, the entire Nefesh that was in the first body must return again for its own sake.
This is the main point here. Rectification through suffering did not happen in the first body, and no parts of the soul were released from the cycle of gilgul.
In the end, it is the second body that becomes his main one. After rectification and death in this world the Nefesh will resurrect only in this second body. There will be no soul to enter the first body, other than the "Ruach [spirit] that he put into his wife," as it says in Sabba of [Zohar]Mishpatim.
When a man first procreates with his wife, a part of his soul goes into the woman and remains there in her womb. This is the spirit that the husband has left within his wife. It is only this minimal spirit that is available to resurrect the body. (See Chapter 36.)
This is the difference between someone who has died without leaving children and must return in the secret of Yibum, and one who dies with sins and must reincarnate.
All the details we have explained regarding the sparks of the Nefesh apply as well to Ruach and Neshama.
Chapter 3 Section 7
There is another difference between yibum and gilgul, which was mentioned at the beginning of this analysis. If a person reincarnates in the secret of yibum, his first body is considered as if it had never existed at all. For this reason, the entire Nefesh returns as a new creation. It is possible, therefore, that the Ruach and Neshama can reincarnate together with the Nefesh, though not all at one time.
When he merits and performs mitzvot fitting for the Ruach, then it will enter him; and it is the same with respect to the Neshama. About a person who came into the world for the first time, the Sabba of [Zohar] Mishpatim explained, "If he merits more, they bring him a Ruach; if he merits more, they bring him a Neshama, etc." This is not the case, as we have explained, for someone who reincarnates.
The one who has come back in the secret of yibum is as if he has come into the world for the first time, and all the rules apply accordingly. This is the case even though it is the second body of his Nefesh (and perhaps it is even a later body of a subsequent gilgul after a second or even a third reincarnation).
Therefore, someone who returns in the secret of yibum is similar to a new creation, and he is able to achieve his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama (NR”N) in one gilgul, if his actions warrant it, as was mentioned. This is the esoteric meaning of the verse, "If he sets his heart upon it, then he would gather into himself his Ruach and his Neshama" (Job 34:14). This is understood in Sabba of [Zohar] Mishpatim in a deep way to refer to one who has returned in the secret of Yibum.
The simple description of the mitzvah of yibum is as follows: The wife of a man who has died without leaving any progeny in the world, will marry the brother of the deceased. This latter is called "the brother-in-law." The child that is born from this union of the wife and her brother-in-law will be called by the name of the deceased. It is considered as if the soul of the deceased, who has left no progeny, has come back into the world. The brother-in-law has returned a portion of the Nefesh of the deceased into this world.
Just as the brother-in-law has the ability to return a portion of the Nefesh of his brother into this world through yibum, so too can yibum itself collect and return to the Nefesh both the Ruach, and Neshama. However, it must be dependent upon good deeds, just as it says, "If he sets his heart upon it." (Ibid.)
A gilgul, on the other hand, does not have the ability to draw all three parts of the soul to him, but only one at a time. As mentioned before, first the Nefesh reincarnates alone until it becomes completely rectified, after which the person dies. Next, the Ruach alone is born into a different body until it is rectified. The Nefesh will also reincarnate together with it, but only as an ibur, since it is already rectified. The only reason it comes back is in order to help the Ruach to do good, and not bad. Therefore, it receives a portion of the good deeds of the Ruach, but not the bad deeds, just as we said with respect to the Nefesh itself when rectified sparks return in the secret of ibur.
This is another explanation of how there can be an end to the reincarnations of the Nefesh, for it has no part in the sins of the Ruach, as mentioned.
Once it is rectified, it remains rectified no matter what the un-rectified Ruach or Neshama do while in the body.
After he dies and the Neshama reincarnates to become rectified, then the Nefesh and the Ruach reincarnate only in the secret of ibur, until it is purified. After that, there will no longer be any need for this person to reincarnate into this world for his own sake. However, he may return into this world as an ibur in another person, during that person’s lifetime, to assist him and thereby receive a portion with him, as was explained previously at length.
Chapter 3 Section 8
Now we will explain what was mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. A secret of gilgul is that when the need is great, a slightly new gilgul can achieve Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama at one time in a single incarnation, without the need for multiple reincarnations since the three of them will achieve tikune in one body.
What is a "slightly new" gilgul? This will be explained in depth later, especially in Chapter 7. In brief, it refers to a person who has completed the tikune of his Nefesh, but not in his first gilgul.
Normally, such a person cannot [rectify his] Ruach in the same gilgul. He has to die and be reborn with his Nefesh and Ruach together. However, there are special cases "when the need is great" that he can attain Ruach-- and even Neshama-- in the same gilgul in which his Nefesh has been completed. This is possible even though it is not the first gilgul of the Nefesh.
Although it is not the first time his Nefesh has been in this world, he has completed the tikune of his Nefesh.Therefore, the Arizal calls him "a slightly new gilgul" (as will be explained in Chapter 7). It is this that makes possible the attainment of all three parts of the soul Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama in one gilgul.
Normally, when the Nefesh comes alone and achieves rectification and purification, the Ruach cannot join it since the Nefesh has been rectified while the Ruach has not. However, there is a way to achieve rectification [together in the same gilgul] when the Nefesh is already completely rectified.
When a person sleeps at night he can deposit his Nefesh with G-d, as is known. Thus, it is possible for the Nefesh to remain Above, adhering to the "Supernal Well" and in the secret of "Mayin Nukvin".
Literally, Mayin Nukvin means "Female Waters." It refers here to the holy sparks that are strewn throughout the levels and dimensions of Creation -- all of them -- as was mentioned briefly in Section 2 of this chapter. Our learning of Torah and performance of mitzvot liberate these holy sparks from the klipot that imprison them. Then the holy sparks ascend "upward" to reunite with the sources of spiritual light. When this happens they cause the "downward" flow of additional light and blessing.
Because they ascend from below to above they are called "female," since (as in conjugal relations) the juices of the female flow from below to above, whereas the juices of the male flow from above to below.
Indeed, all types of light that go from below to above, such as "Returning Light," are also called "Female Light." The classical abbreviation for Mayin Nukvin is "Mem-Nun", which we will refer to as M"N throughout this translation.
(These matters are known from Sha’ar HaTefillah in the section about going to sleep at night. Investigate this further there.)
Furthermore, the place for water is in a well. Since there is a place in the supernal worlds called "the Supernal Well," it is fitting that this Nefesh that has been fully rectified and has ascended upward in the secret of Mayin Nukvin remain there in the Supernal Well. Consequently, the Nefesh that has been completely rectified and has ascended as M"N to the Supernal Well does not descend in the morning when souls return to this world. It will remain in the Supernal Well, and in its place his Ruach will descend.
When he awakens in the morning, his Ruach will then enter by itself, as if reincarnated into a different body.
This new situation will continue until it is rectified completely, at which point the Nefesh will return into the body as before, since they both are now rectified. The Ruach can be dressed within the Nefesh, and the Nefesh can be its "vehicle."
Once the Ruach is also rectified like the Nefesh, there is no hindrance to its becoming ensconced within theNefesh, and the Nefesh becomes its vehicle.
Likewise, after the Ruach becomes completely purified, then both the Nefesh and the Ruach can leave the body at night during sleep and be "deposited" Above, where they will remain [for the time being]. In the morning, when he awakens, the Neshama will enter into him. It will become rectified, and once rectification is complete, then the previously rectified Nefesh and Ruach can return. The three of them will join together in the same body, and one will become the "vehicle" for the other(s). No more reincarnations will be necessary.
Thus, there is a possibility that a "slightly new" soul can achieve rectification of the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama even though it is not his first gilgul. This lesson now becomes the basis for a new, esoteric exposition of the following verse.
All of this is alluded to in the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night; even [with] my Ruach that is within me will I seek You…" (Isaiah 26:9).
[The interpretation:] My Nefesh became purified until it was able to cling to You in the secret of "and cling to Him"(Deut. 11:22). It then desired You, and yearned to cling to You. The time of desiring and yearning is specifically at night, when souls may be deposited because they are ascending in the secret of Mayin Nukvin to cause a supernal zivug.
Since the time of yearning is at night, it was written, "My Nefesh has desired You at night…"
The word zivug used here literally means "to pair", although "union" (and specifically, conjugal union) would probably be a more accurate rendition according to the meaning of the Kabbalah. By ascending to higher levels in the secret of M"N the holy sparks cause the Upper Partzufim to unite together (zivug). Thus, they draw light down from Above to the lower levels.
The strength of this yearning, because it is pure, makes possible total adherence. The Nefesh can remain there and not descend.
Thus, the first part of the verse has been explained. "My Nefesh has desired You at night because the night is the time of desire when the souls ascend as M"N to the Supernal Well. In the morning when it is time for the descent, then my Nefesh does not descend, but my Ruach in its place descends into my body to seek You.
The Hebrew word that has been translated here "to seek You" is as shachreca, the root of which is shachar. Shachar means "morning". Thus, the second part of the verse will be rendered, "…In the morning my Ruach will enter into me," in the place of my Nefesh.
In the morning when it comes time for the Nefesh to descend once again and it does not, then "my Ruach" can enter me instead. This is why it is not "my Nefesh" that "seeks for You"/"in the morning."
This is according to both meanings of ashachreca.
Rather it is his Ruach that enters him to become rectified.
Therefore, the initial letters of the Hebrew words that have been translated "in the night my Nefesh, even myRuach" [Bait-Aleph-Reish] spell "be'er" [in Hebrew, well]; this alludes to what was mentioned earlier, that the Nefesh longs to ascend to the Supernal Well.
That these initial letters spell be'er, meaning well, is an indication to the Rav that something is happening here in this verse that is taking place in the Supernal Well, and he has explained the verse accordingly. Now, he wants to draw a practical application from what he has been expounding in this section: namely, that this verse should be recited at night before going to sleep.
Hence, if a person knows on his own that he has rectified his Nefesh, he can say the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night; even [with] my Ruach that is within me will I seek You [in Hebrew, ashachreca]…" before laying down to sleep. He should recite it concentrating upon the esoteric meaning that has been explained here in order to attain his Ruach, and similarly his Neshama. Then he will not need additional gilgulim. Understand this esoteric secret well and be cautious with it.
Indeed, in the prescribed recitation of the Bedtime Shma in the prayer book of the Ari (at least according to the Ben Ish Chai) this verse appears, and it is recited by everyone every night.
There is another verse that is also recited each night in the recitation of the Bedtime Shema. The reason for the recitation of this second verse is similar to what has been explained in this section, but not exactly. The Rav will now explain the differences between them, and why both verses need to be recited.
However, the verse that we are accustomed to say, "In Your hand I will deposit my soul…" (Psalms 31:6), doesn’t help to accomplish what has been explained here. It only means that the Nefesh will ascend as a "deposit." In the morning it will return to descend. However, the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night; even [with] my Ruach that is within me will I seek You…" means that the Nefesh will remain Above, and that either the Ruach or the Neshama will descend in its place.
(Note: Shmuel says: The verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night; even [with] my Ruach that is within me will I seek for You…" is explained in Gate Six of Shaar HaKavanot. See there.)
End of Chapter 3
Do you know the difference between reincarnation – gilgul- Yibum – the result of a man dying without a child – And the change associated with exchanging parts of the soul at night? This is all discussed in chapter 3. Also discussed in chapter 3 is the idea of the Nefesh being on its own and always unified. Do you remember why this is necessary?
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