From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
The Resurrection of the Dead testifies that the soul and body were never totally apart In the beginning ["Bereishit"], G‑d created the heavens and the earth…(Gen. 1:1) Just as heaven and earth were "firsts" in terms of the Creation, so also are the soul and body "firsts" in terms of man…
chanoch adds: Does anyone think that heaven and earth were created together or at the same moment? This question needs to be clarified due to what is written above.
Humankind itself has an aspect of "heaven" and an aspect of "earth". This is slightly different that what we said above [see Anatomy of the Creation]. For his soul is the spiritual component of his makeup which parallels the heavens, and his body is the physical that parallels the earth. Concerning these two, the first verse in the Torah says, "Bereishit", meaning, there are "two" [the numerical value of the letter beit] things that are considered "firsts/beginnings" [in Hebrew, "reishit"]. For just as heaven and earth were "firsts" in terms of the Creation, so also are the soul and body "firsts" in terms of man.
This is why the verse contains seven words, paralleling the seventy years of a normal lifespan.
This is as the verse says, "The years of our lives number seventy, and if we are strong, eighty, but the honor (we attain in our short lives) is wearisome and futile, [for the end] cuts us off swiftly and [everything we have done] flies away". (Psalms 90:10)
The end of bodily existence is thus alluded to in the next verse, "And the earth [i.e. the body] was formless and void, with darkness on the face of the depths. But the spirit of G‑d [still] hovers over the waters".(Gen. 1:2) Tohu indicates a state of amazement and disbelief.
chanoch adds: Remember the earlier translation of Tohu is void or nothingness. Also remember above that Tohu is a higher aspect of the two aspects of Keter as discussed above.
This is the meaning of the continuation of the verse, "…with darkness on the face of the depths [in Hebrew, 'tehom']".(Gen. 1:2) The word "tehom" ["depths"] contains the same letters as "hamavet" [meaning "death"].
Tehom: tav - hei - vav - mem
Hamavet: hei - mem - vav - tav
This indicates that a person who dies resembles one who sits in the dark, waiting for the light to shine. And this is exactly what will happen, for the continuation of the verse states, "…but the spirit of G‑d [still] hovers over the waters."(Ibid.) This spirit of G‑d is none other than the soul that never abandons the body, for while the body was alive, the soul dwelled within it and gave it life. If, at the moment of death , it would depart completely, truly there would be no hope. All the bones, including the Luz bone, would rot and decompose entirely. We are therefore informed that this is not the case. On the contrary, the spirit of G‑d, which is the soul, hovers over the bones. [Why, then does it say that the soul hovers over the "waters"?] The waters here refer to the Torah that a person learned. In the merit of that Torah, the soul continues to hover over the body. Just as water leaves the high mountains and descends to the lowest valleys, so too does the Torah…
Concerning the fact that water symbolizes Torah, this is exactly what the sages say on the verse "Oh, all you who are thirsty, come to the water!"(Isaiah 55:1) "Why is the Torah likened to water? Just as water leaves the high mountains and descends to the lowest valleys, so too does the Torah; it will only be found with someone who is humble and unassuming".(Taanit 7a)
chanoch adds: The Kabbalah teaches that the stronger the ego - desire to receive for one self alone - the more difficult to remember the Torah we have learned. The more humble the person the Torah learned by that person is available to be retrieved through the persons memory.
Water can also refer to the Dew [in Hebrew, "tal"] of Resurrection, in which case the soul's "hovering over the bones" would refer to its "waiting" impatiently for the 39 [numerical value of "tal", meaning "dew"] Lights that will eventually shine into the bones. This is seen in the verse regarding the "dew" with which the Holy One will resurrect the dead in the future: "Your dead will live again. My [people's] corpse shall arise. Awake and sing, O you who dwell in the dust! For Your dew is a dew of lights, and the earth shall cast forth the dead [who rested in it]."(Isaiah 26:19)
G‑d will use the Luz bone to rebuild the newly resurrected body…
For all the while that the body is decomposing in darkness, it awaits the illumination that it will receive from that dew [tal]. When that happens, G‑d will use the Luz bone to rebuild the newly resurrected body. This is the meaning of the sages' statement that "the Luz bone remains intact forever." (Zohar III:222a:)
Rebbe Shimon said… Come and see what is written [concerning the Resurrection of the Dead]: "Remember, please, that You fashioned me like clay, and that You will return me to the dust again"(Job 10:9). What is written immediately following this? "You will pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese. You will clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews"(ibid. 10:10).
After a person's body decays in the ground, and the time of the Resurrection of the Dead comes, the Holy One will take that bone that remains and process it like dough, and like cheese is curdled from milk… That bone will then be mixed with the remainder of the body [that has already decomposed and become dust]. [That bone] will then also become liquid like milk. It will then be curdled and given a form, like cheese is curdled out of milk. Skin, flesh, sinew and bone will then be stretched over it. This is the meaning of, "You will pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese…" (Pirkey d'Rebbe Eliezer 34:)
Rabbi Shimon said: All bodies remain in the earth until all that remains of them is a spoonful of decayed material. This becomes mixed with the dust of the earth, just like yeast is placed in dough. In the Future, when the Holy One calls the earth to bring forth all bodies, this dust will germinate in the earth, just like yeast germinates in dough. It will then grow and bring forth the body without blemish.[Zohar 2:28b:]
Rabbi Chiya said: It is written, "Your dead will live again". (Isaiah 26:19) The Holy One will thus not create new bodies for the dead in the future, but rather resurrect their original bodies. For there is a single bone that remains of a person's body after it has decomposed in the ground. That bone does not rot or decompose. It remains intact forever. When the time comes [to resurrect the dead], the Holy One will soften that bone like yeast in dough. It will then rise up and expand in four directions. From it, He will reconstitute the body and all its limbs. Afterwards, the Holy One will infuse it with life.
Rabbi Elazar said to Rabbi Chiya: It is just so! And come and see: How will the Holy One soften that bone? With dew, as it is written, "For Your dew is a dew of lights".[(ibid)Shaar HaLikutim, Samuel I, 2:19:]
The highest level of the soul of the tzadik ascends to Atzilut; the Neshama itself ascends to the Supernal Garden of Eden in Beriya; the Ruach ascends to the Earthly Garden of Eden in Yetzira; while all the different aspects of the Nefesh (which itself is associated with Asiya), hover over the interred body as long as the flesh has not decomposed from the bones. After the decomposition of the flesh, even the Nefesh ascends to Earthly Garden of Eden. However, the lowest aspect of the Nefesh called "vapor of the bones" ["hevlei d'garmi"] does remain in the grave, as explained in Zohar, parashat Shelach.
[Regarding the different aspects of the Nefesh,] It is generally known that there are five levels of soul [Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya and Yechida], and that each of these has five sub-levels or aspects. For instance, the highest aspect of Nefesh is Yechida of Nefesh. After this comes Chaya of Nefesh, Neshama of Nefesh, Ruach of Nefesh, and finally, Nefesh of Nefesh. All of these aspects of the Nefesh are called by the general name Nefesh. It is the higher aspects that ascend above after the decomposition of the flesh. The lower aspects, namely, the "vapor of the bones" and the 288 sparks of holiness, stay below. These aspects will remain with the residue of the bones until the Resurrection of the Dead…
Now behold, this "vapor of the bones" itself has two aspects: The inner aspect remains within the residue of the bones, while the outer aspect hovers over the bones… This second aspect is alluded to in the verse, "His soul mourns over him"(Job 14:22) - "over him" precisely - for long after death, this aspect of the Nefesh continues to hover over the residue of the bones…
This, again, is why the Torah uses the word "bohu" [in the verse "And the earth was formless and void - bohu…."(Gen. 1:2)]. In addition to meaning "void", it can be broken up into two words, "bo" ["in it"]-"hu" ["he is"], referring to the miniscule amount of moisture that that bone retains - just enough to keep it intact until it is used to create the new resurrected body.
Only the Torah that a person learned in this world illuminates the path before him…
Undoubtedly, the Luz bone could not retain even such a miniscule amount of moisture if not for the soul hovering over it. This is clearly alluded to in the verse, "When you walk [in this world in the way of the Torah], she [the soul] will guide you; when you lie down [in your grave], she will guard over you; and when you awaken [for the resurrection], she will converse with you". (Proverbs 6:22) That is, in the merit of the Torah that a person learns, the soul hovers over the bones.
This is true even at the moment of death. This is because there is, in This World, a certain path that is extremely dark. When a person passes away, the soul embarks on this dark path. [If he did not learn Torah] the soul doesn't know which path to follow. Only the Torah that a person learned in this world illuminates the path before him. This is the meaning of the following verse, "For the mitzvah is a candle, and the Torah is light". (Proverbs 6:23)
This again is the meaning of "When you walk, she will guide you; when you lie down, she will guard over you…." That is, in the merit of the Torah, the soul guards over the bones, keeping them from rotting.
The protection spoken of here is specifically over the bones. The verse thus says, "Many evils may strike the righteous man, but G‑d delivers him from every single one. He protects all his bones; not one of them [i.e. the Luz] is broken" (Psalms 34:20-21). The "one" special bone that does not decompose is the Luz bone. In the merit of this, all the other bones will stand.
For eventually, [all of them will stand] at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead. This is the meaning of the verse, "And G‑d said, 'Let there be light', and there was light". (Gen. 1:3) This is the light with which the Holy One is going to resurrect the dead. Then, the dark pallor that covered the face of the dead will be removed.
"And there was light".(Ibid.) This refers to the light that will shine after the Resurrection of the Dead. For after the advent of the 7th Millennium, there will be no more darkness. Rather, "Night will shine like the day"(Psalms 139:12) [and "It shall come to pass on that day that there shall be neither bright light nor thick darkness. Rather, a day will come, it is known to G‑d, that is neither day nor night… at evening time there will be light"(Zachariah 14:6-7).] This is the meaning of, "And it was evening and it was morning, Day One" (Gen. 1:5), [which can be reread as: "In the future, night and day will both be considered 'day'."]
This also alludes to the fact that the darkness of death will also come to an end. This is the meaning of the verse, "One who dies at age one-hundred will be considered a child" (Isaiah 65:20) [i.e. the general lifespan of humanity will be so long that a person who dies at age one-hundred will be considered a child]. For Israel, however, there will be complete freedom from death, as the verse attests, "Death will be swallowed up forever, and Lord G‑d will wipe the tears off every face. He will remove the insult against His people from the entire world. G‑d, the Merciful One, has declared". (Isaiah 25:8)
chanoch adds: This paragraph indicates that there will still be death for people who have not achieved the level of consciousness called Israel and for those people who have reached this level of consiousness there will be freedom from death in all its forms. body death - business death - relationships dying and many other levels. This implies that there will be something that feels like a second class citizenship. This will cause many problems that will still need to be resolved. That will be the spiritual work during the 1000 years of Shabbat.
[Adapted by Avraham Sutton from Likutei Torah (Chumash HaAri, Bereishit, p. 6)]
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
The Arizal resolves a dispute between two Talmudic schools
In the beginning, Elokim created the heavens and the earth... (Gen. 1:1)
The Torah begins with the letter beit [whose numerical value is 2] to inform us that two things are called "Beginning" - namely the heavens and the earth. For just as the heavens were created "first," so too was the earth!
We read in the Talmud (Chagiga 12a; according to Maharsha):
Beit Shamai maintains that the heavens were created first, and only afterwards the earth, as it is written, "In the beginning Elokim created the heavens [first] and [then] the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Beit Hillel maintains that the earth was created first, and only afterwards the heavens, as it is written, "On the day that Lord G‑d made earth and heaven" (Gen. 2:4).
Beit Hillel challenged Beit Shamai: "According to your reasoning, a person [who wants to build a two-story house] would first have to build the upper story, and only then complete the ground floor. [That is impossible for a man to do; and it is even unlikely that G‑d would switch the natural order of things in such a way.] This is the meaning of the verse, 'Did He build His upper chambers in the heavens, and [only then] establish His stairway on the earth?!' (Amos 9:6)." [We must therefore say that the earth was established first, and only then the heavens.]
Heaven and earth…were created together like a pot and its cover…
Beit Shamai retorted to Beit Hillel: "According to your reasoning, a person makes a footstool first, and then a chair upon which to sit. The following verse [indicates otherwise], 'Thus says G‑d: The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool'. (Isaiah 66:1)." [We must therefore say that the heavens preceded the earth.]
The Rabbis maintain that they [the heavens and earth] were created together, at the same time, as it is written, "My hand has also founded the earth; and My right hand has stretched forth the heavens. I [G‑d] call to them, and they stand up together". (Isaiah 48:13)
The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 1:15) adds:
Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai said: "Another verse helps prove Beit Hillel's position, 'Long ago, You founded the earth', and afterwards, 'the heavens are the work of Your hands' (Psalms 102:26)".
Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of the sages: "In terms of [the entirety of] Creation, it is clear that the heavens preceded the earth. In terms of [bringing the Creation to] completion, it is clear that the earth preceded the heavens.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: I am surprised that those Fathers of the world, Shamai and Hillel, argued over the [order of the] Creation of heaven and earth. Rather, in my opinion, they were created together like a pot and its cover, as the verse attests, "I [G‑d] call to them, and they stand up together". (Isaiah 48:13)
Rabbi Chaim Vital now begins to explain the above "dispute":
chanoch adds: A better translation for "dispute" is "Machlochet" which means an argument in search of truth. It is usually translated as an "argument for the sake of heaven".
In the first verse of the Torah, the heavens are mentioned first, while the earth is mentioned second. The same is true of Gen. 2:4, where the first half of the verse states, "These are the chronicles of the heavens and the earth when they were created."
Nevertheless, in the second half of that same verse, the order is reversed, and reads, "On the day that G‑d Elokim made earth and heaven."
Similarly, it is written in Isaiah, "My hand has also founded the earth; and My right hand has stretched forth the heavens" (Isaiah 48:13). Interestingly, the verse begins by saying "My hand has also founded". This seems to indicate that the heavens were created first. Afterwards, however, when it says "and My right hand has stretched forth the heavens", the prefix "and" of "and My right hand" seems to indicate that this was done after something else, namely, after His left hand founded the earth. Only after this did His right hand stretch forth the heavens.
In addition to there being numerous verses that seem to contradict each other; Isaiah 48:13 thus seems to contain its own internal contradiction.
In the universe of Beriya, the heavens preceded the earth…
[In order to understand this properly, it is necessary to introduce an important distinction:] In the universe of Beriya, the heavens preceded the earth. For in that dimension, holiness and spirituality dominate. In the lower world of Asiya, on the other hand, the earth preceded the heavens.
Beriya is the causal reality that lies above and behind the physical world that we perceive with our senses. It corresponds to the 1st day of Creation when everything was still in potential. Asiya ["Action" "Completion"] is usually identified with the material dimension that is the end-product of the entire creation process. By introducing this distinction, the Ari has shown that Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel aren't really arguing - and teaches us to look deeper into the layers of reality that lie behind and above our sense perceived world.
In Asiya, physicality is more dominant…
This is the meaning of the statement [in the Midrash above by Rabbi Yochanan]: "In terms of [the entirety of] Creation, it is clear that the heavens preceded the earth. In terms of [bringing the Creation to] completion, it is clear that the earth preceded the heavens." In Asiya, physicality is more dominant, for the entire intention of bringing the dimension of Asiya into existence was to materialize [i.e. give form to] all [the subtle levels that preceded it]. The verse [Gen. 2:4] indicates this by placing "earth" before "heaven".
Accordingly, the first half of Gen. 2:4, "These are the chronicles of the heavens and the earth when they were created," alludes to the dimension of Beriya [the world of Creation]. The second half, "On the day that G‑d Elokim made earth and heaven," alludes to the dimension of Asiya [the world of Action or Making].
Similarly, in Isaiah 48:13, the first half of the verse refers to Beriya, in which heaven preceded earth. This explains the addition of the word "also" in the first part of the verse, indicating that something (i.e. heaven) preceded the founding of the earth, specifically in Beriya.
Conversely, the second half of the verse refers to Asiya in which earth preceded heaven. This explains the prefix "and" of "and My right hand…" It indicates that, in Asiya, something else (i.e. the founding of the earth) preceded the stretching forth of the heavens.
Translated and adapted by Avraham Sutton from Likutei Torah, "Chumash Ari" Bereishit, p. 6
chanoch adds: Earlier in these classes i posed the question were Heaven and Earth created simultaneously. After this clarification the question was not answered. In my opinion, the answer is yes they were created simultaneously. This is due that there is no "process" in the Creator and thus it is possible for the Creator to Create both simultaneously meaning HaShem spoke into existence the worlds of Briah and Asiyah with the same "words".
By Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (from the Writings of the Ari as recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital); translation and commentary by Avraham Sutton
All of Creation stems from the root name of G-d - Havayah There are 4 elements that correspond to the 4 letters of Havayah:
chanoch adds: There are other correspondences as well. Some of these are 4 directions out of the 6 directions - 4 metals - 4 Patriarchs - 4 Worlds - 4 species - Souls - and many other correspondences. If you have a correspondence you would like to see send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting it and we will add it to the table below.
Paralleling the first yud of Havayah is the element of water - Abraham - chesed - South
Paralleling the hei of Havayah is element of fire - Isaac - harsh gevura - North
Paralleling the vav of Havayah is the element of air - Jacob - tiferet - East
Paralleling the final hei of Havayah is the element of dust/earth - David - lower Sefira (i.e. soft) gevura [malchut] - West.
|Correspondences to the Four|
|Yood||Water||South||Avraham||Chesed||Atzilut - Emanation||Silver||Myrtle||White||Chaya|
|Upper Hai||Fire||North||Isaac||Gevura - Harsh Judgement||Beria - Creation||Gold||Willow||Red||Neshamah|
|Vav||Air||East||Jacob - Israel||Tiferet||Yetzirah - Formation||Green||Lulav||Copper||Ruach|
|Lower Hai||Earth||West||David||Malchut||Asiah - Action||Brass||Etrog||Techellet Blue or Black||Neshamah|
The first hei, paralleling Isaac, is harsh judgment. It is for this reason that it [this hei] appears twice in the Havayah. For the milui ["spelling out"] of this letter is hei-hei. That is, [before the second hei is emanated as a separate power], it is merely the milui of the first hei. It [didn't exist as a separate concept until it] emerged from [its state of concealment within] the first hei.
chanoch adds: The above paragraph does not give a reason for the revealing the second Hai nor does it explain why the Hai is the Milui and not the Yood or the Aleph which are two potential Milui's with the Letter Hai. In short the explanation is not complete in my opinion. This paragraph is not from the writings from the Ari but is a commentary by the Translater, in my opinion.
This World was created with this smaller [second] hei. It is for this reason that the letter hei in the word "be'hi'bar'am" - "…when they were created" (Gen. 2:4) is written small.
The phrase can also be interpreted: "in [the letter] hei He created them."
For, just as the milui is not recognizable [as a separate letter] when we pronounce a letter, so also, in this milui, hei is subsumed in the first hei.
Essentially, Havayah has three main letters. The lower hei, corresponding to Earth, emerged from the first hei, corresponding to Fire…
Correspondingly, the four elements are really only three: water, fire and air. For, similar to ash [in Hebrew, "efer"], the element of Earth [in Hebrew, "afar" - like "efer"] is what is left over after having been burned by fire. So also [in the spiritual root], the lower hei, corresponding to Earth, emerged from the first hei, corresponding to Fire.
Corresponding to the 4 letters of Havayah, G‑d also brought forth 4 worlds [universes, dimensions]: ABY"A [Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira, Asiya]. The intention in this was as follows: [Based on the analogy of the sun as the source of energy for our solar system,] the Blessed Ein Sof Himself, as the Ultimate Spiritual Energy Source, could make a material world only by creating enormous distance.
Only when He emerges to sit on His throne and govern His kingdom does He reveal Himself…
Now, behold, in the dimension of Atzilut, there is no angel [of Yetzira] or Seraph [of Beriya]. There is only His Name. This can be likened to a king who sits alone [invisible] in his innermost chamber. Only when He emerges [from his concealment] to sit on His throne and govern His kingdom does He reveal Himself to His princes and servants.
[The king in his innermost chamber is the level of Atzilut. The throne is the level of Beriya.] The princes are the level of Yetzira. The servants are the level of Asiya and all that is below them.
chanoch adds: What is below them? It is the negative system.
The fact that He is called by a name [Havayah] in Atzilut already suggests a degree of limitation. Above Atzilut, even this is forbidden.
According to the Kabbala, even the name Havayah is a limitation for He Who Is Beyond Any Name and/or Appellation. Kabbala emphasizes that none of the names with which the Torah describes G‑d's interaction with us refer to G‑d Himself. No, G‑d Himself, for Whom even the appellation Ein Sof (Endless One) is a limitation, Is Beyond All Name and/or Description.
G‑d's names refer to the various ways He runs His universe and relates to us…
Rather, G‑d's names refer to the various ways He runs His universe and relates to us. Look at any verse in Scripture in which any of the Divine Names appear. According to Kabbala, none of these Names refer to G‑d Himself in any literal sense. That possibility simply does not exist by virtue of the rule that G‑d Is Beyond All Names.
Nevertheless, relative to all other divine names, the name Havayah is the root. The reason for this might be that Havayah is not just a name, but a four-letter formula: yud, hei, vav and hei. As the Kabbala teaches, this four-letter formula includes all divine names and modes in a total unity. All other divine names are derivatives and specific aspects of this all-encompassing name.
Paralleling the universe of Atzilut, G‑d thus said, "All was called [into existence] for My Name's sake" (Isaiah 43:7). In Atzilut, it is possible to call Him by Name.
The entire verse reads: "All was called [into existence] for My Name's sake. For My Glory I have created it, I have formed it, and I have also completed it" (Isaiah 43:7). According to the way the Rav is reading it now, this verse speaks about the 4 worlds:
Atzilut: "All was called [into existence] for My Name's sake."
Beriya: " For My Glory I have created it…."
Yetzira: "…I have formed it…"
Asiya: "…I have also completed it."
chanoch adds: These phrases can be seen clearly as relating to the World from the translation of these Names of the World.
After Atzilut, He created the universe of Beriya, which is called "World of the Throne". It is there that He reveals Himself by way of "Hht'lab'shut" [i.e. the higher, ethereal level "clothing itself" in the lower level]. This is the idea of the throne being His "glory", similar to the way Rabbi Yochanan called his garments "my glory". This is why the verse says, "For My Glory I have created it."
Now, if the world of Beriya would desire to exceed its own domain, by rising up and entering into [or crossing the boundary between it and] the domain of Atzilut, it would immediately be nullified and burnt [and cease to exist as a separate dimension; rather it would be subsumed in the higher dimension from which it emerged]. It cannot exist except in its own domain.
The same is true of Yetzira. If it would come too close to [the boundary of] Beriya, it would be burnt and nullified. This is why the verse states, "I have formed it."
Regarding the world of Asiya, it then says, "I have also completed it." If His 'word' were too revealed, it would have been impossible to bring a physical world into existence…
Clearly, the intention of emanating these 4 worlds was in order to hide Himself in one garment after another, so that creatures in this lowest world could exist. This is the meaning of the verses, "It is G‑d's honor to hide a 'davar' [which can be translated as 'thing' or 'word']" (Proverbs 25:2), for "With the 'word' of G‑d the heavens were made". If His "word" were too revealed, it would have been impossible to bring a physical world into existence. Only by concealing and hiding [the light], namely, the concealment of His words in garment after garment, can the worlds be made and continue to exist.
And so it is with all created things in the world. Their names in the Holy Tongue [Hebrew] are the very letters of G‑d's 'speech' that descend, level by level, from the Ten Utterances of Creation recorded in the Torah, by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the 231 Gates [of permutations], until they reach down and become clothed in that particular created entity. [This gradual descent is necessary] because individual creatures are simply incapable of receiving their life-force directly from the Ten Utterances of the Torah, for the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of individual creatures to receive. They can only receive it when it descends and [its power] is progressively diminished, step by step... until it can be condensed and clothed [in a lower form], and finally bring into existence an individual creature. The name that that creature is then called in the Holy Tongue is a conduit for the life-force that is condensed into its letters....[Shaar Ha'yichud Ve'ha'emunah, chap. 1, p. 77a by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi]
This is like fire that consumes everything that comes into close proximity with it. There are certain things, like stones, that can come close, and not be burnt immediately. On the other hand, straw and stubble would be burnt on the spot. However, if the straw and stubble are removed from the immediate vicinity of the fire, they will not be burned on the spot.
chanoch adds: i would like to mention 2 points. One is that the word stone or stones can be a metaphor for the Hebrew letters. The Hebrew letters are actually "power stations" in the world of Briah or some of the Kabbalists say it is the world of Atzilut. The second item is to recognize that the last two paragraphs are a good yet short understanding of the process of Creation and the purpose of and process of transformation of the power of HaShem to a lower level in order to manifest the physical world and more importantly the consciousness of each human being.
[Translated and adapted by Avraham Sutton from Likutei Torah, Parashat Bereishit (Chumash HaAri, Bereishit, p. 7-9)]
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
Recipe for long life...From the Torah:
"Honor your father and your mother. You will then live long on the land that G‑d your L-rd is giving you." (Ex. 20:12)
These matters are those that a man eats their fruits in this world and their principal is retained for him in the World to Come. And these are they: Honoring one's father and mother… (Shabbat 127a)
From the Talmud
The Rabbi's taught: There are three partners in a person's creation: The Holy One, blessed be He, the father, and the mother. The father supplies implants the white substance, out of which are formed the child's bones, sinews, nails, the brain, and the white in his eye. The mother supplies the fluid of the red substance, from which is formed the skin, flesh, hair, blood and the black in his eye; and the Holy One, blessed be He, gives the child the spirit and the soul, beauty of features, eyesight, the power of hearing and the ability to speak and to walk, understanding and discernment.(Nidda, 31a)
chanoch adds: In Kabbalah the above paragraph is well known. In my opinion, there are hints in this paragraph to our modern science of DNA. One day all of these items expressed will found to be sourced in the DNA from the father and the mother. Eventually the spiritual DNA which is revealed in the Name of the Child will also become revealed.
From the Arizal:
Behold the son that comes from the father, the son is an "effect" of the father, and the father is the son's cause, who brought him into being. [Accordingly,] the effect is bound to the cause that brought him into being…
...shefa from Above is drawn to the son...through the means of the pathways [established by his parents]...
This explains the reason for honoring parents, for no shefa (abundant spiritual energy) from Above is drawn to the son, except through the means of the pathways [established by his parents] and their agency, for he is their effect, as has been mentioned. Now this explanation suffices when the souls of the parents and the children are from one [spiritual] source.
Then they are above and he is below them, and needs them, in order to draw down his abundant spiritual energy and life force by their agency. But, the majority of children, as is known, are not from the same [spiritual] source [of their parents], for this one is from chesed (kindness), and this one is from gevura (restraint) and their like.
Particularly in the case of reincarnated souls, the children do not have a [spiritual] lineage with their fathers in most cases, and they do not have any [spiritual] lineage or closeness with the souls of their fathers, or their mothers at all, in any essential way. And many times we find the opposite: a despised man, and lowly in the extreme, fathers a completely righteous and great wise son, whose soul is higher than that of his father 1000 levels. In such cases, why are the children obligated to honor their parents?
But the secret of the matter is the following: Know that every soul is drawn from either the chasadim or the gevurot in the daat of Zeir Anpin, and the soul has its own source there. When a man unites with his soul mate, they draw down this soul here mentioned, and then her father gives to her a small portion from the dimension of his chasadim (kindnesses) that is in him, and they join with this new soul.
The dimension from her father is made into something like a garment for her...
The dimension from her father is made into something like a garment for her, in order to guide her and assist her in this world, to fulfill the mitzvot and be absorbed in the Torah. For since the infant is born small, how will it know on its own to walk in the ways of Torah and the mitzvot, if not by the means of the portion of the father's soul that assists, advises and guides him? And if this soul is new [i.e. not a reincarnated soul], it is not habituated to this world and needs support to help, establish and guide her. And if she is a reincarnated soul, she too requires help, for her original sins prevent her to travel along the good way.
Similarly, the mother gives to this soul a portion from the gevurot (severities) that is in her, making for her something like a garment. In this manner, whatever a person does in this world, a portion of it can be linked to the father and the mother, for they are his helpers, guiding him in this world, by the means of this garment with which they enclothed him, as mentioned. And even all the shefa that is channeled to him from above, is drawn down only through this garment. (Gate of the Commandments, parashat Yitro, pp. 33-34)
From the Ramak
We therefore ascribe the color red to the place of judgment (gevura). Furthermore, everything that is red is derived from the power of this root…Likewise, the color white indicates kindness and peace (chesed)… (Pardes Rimonim, Shaar Mahut Ve'hanaga)
Today, the path to honoring one's parents, for many, is a long one, filled with significant internal obstacles. Many people have first to work through their anger and grief in relationship to their upbringing before this commandment of the Torah can be integrated and lived in its fullest expression. In order to honor one's parents one needs to have attained equanimity (hishtavut) regarding one's past hurts and losses. When we can healthily detach from the ego and operate from a perspective of soul then honoring one's parents, even if they are largely the same people who hurt us, is nevertheless possible and even a liberating act.
To love is to give, to be mature is to love.
To love is to give, to be mature is to love. In original cultures the transition from childhood to adulthood has always been related to marriage, the quintessential forum for love. Likewise, with our parents, the transition of our role, from that of primarily being receivers, to that of primarily being givers is a significant stage in life. To love your parents is to honor them. The parent-child relationship is unequal. In its first phase, the parents give to the child; in its later stage the child gives to the parents. In the middle of this process there can be an exchange, but it is never between equals. In the absence of this equality, love expresses itself partially as honor.
The Arizal's fundamental insight is that honoring one's parents is related to the development of one's spirituality. To honor one's parents is, in essence, to recognize them, and this acknowledgment facilitates for them the potential expansion of their soul. Honoring a person for who they are allows more of who they are to come through. The Arizal is emphasizing that by offering this sincere honor we expand our own soul, via the garment they have bequeathed us, and is still connected to them. Thus we receive through our giving even more than they do through their receiving.
chanoch adds: This commentary from the translator is giving substance to the Kabbalah teaching of Binding by Striking as a tool to transform receiving into sharing. On its surface level this idea that one can receive and that is actually sharing seems to be a paradox. ON the deeper levels it becomes clear that there are times that receiving for the sake of sharing is quite a possibility in certain circumstances, especially when the difference in "status" between the two participants is significant.
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
Giving charity increases unity in the world
We will now explain the mystical meaning of the verse, "There is one who gives generously yet ends with more", (Proverbs 11:24) which our sages applied to the mitzvah of charity. (Yalkut Shimoni ad loc) Indeed, we will also relate [this verse] to the same subject, for yesod is called the "righteous one" [in Hebrew, "tzadik"], inasmuch as it gives "charity" [tzedaka] to Nukva, who is a priori termed "righteousness" [tzedek], but thereby becomes "charity" [tzedaka].
The word for "charity", "tzedaka", is composed of the word for "righteousness" ("tzedek", spelled tzadik-dalet-kuf) plus an additional hei. Since the hei at the end of a word is a sign of the feminine gender, tzedaka may be considered the feminine form of "tzedek". Thus, yesod transforms Nukva into a female.
chanoch adds: In my opinion, the last sentence would be more clear if it said as follows: Yesod transforms the Nukva by sharing with it. This transformation elevates the Nukva to be equal level with Zeir Anpin.
Now, [the verse speaks of] the tzadik [i.e., yesod] as "giving generously". The literal meaning of this word [in Hebrew, "mefazeir"] is "spreading", implying that it crumbles the supernal states of chesed into small crumbs, which scatter from the pulverizing blows. This is in order to give [these crumbs] to Nukva, and the crumbs spread throughout Nukva in a manner similar to [how the coins of] tzedaka [a person distributes spread salvation throughout the world].
Someone who gives charity…will become wealthier, and possess more than he did beforehand…
You should not think that these states of chesed are diminished by [passing through] Zeir Anpin, or that they lack anything by being given to tzedek [i.e., Nukva]. On the contrary, [the result of this process] is not a lacking but "ends with more." For these [pulverizing] blows magnify all the states of chesed, and their light increases infinitely. Zeir Anpin grows through this process, as we have explained elsewhere. This is the meaning of the phrase, "yet ends with more".
Zeir Anpin must process its abstract experience of chesed, "breaking it down" or concretizing it into terms and contexts that are meaningful to the objective-oriented partzuf of Nukva in order for the latter to assimilate it. Lest one think that Zeir Anpin suffers from its "marriage" to Nukva (for which it must "trouble itself" to contextualize its inherent abstractness, which would seem to be a regrettable descent), we are told here that it, in fact, matures and develops from the process. The descent into reality rebounds as a greater ability to achieve abstraction.
It could be that this is why yesod is called "Joseph".
As we have explained numerous times, Joseph is associated with yesod by virtue of his sexual purity. Here, we note that the word "Joseph" (in Hebrew, "Yosef") means "he will add", alluding to the increase Joseph - i.e., holy coupling with Nukva - causes in Zeir Anpin.
So will it be with someone who gives charity. [He will not suffer financially from this, but] on the contrary, he will become wealthier, and possess more than he did beforehand.
Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah, Shaar HaMitzvot; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard." available at Kabbala Online Shop]
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
Extra care must be taken regarding new entities
Make holy to me every firstborn [male]that issues forth first [in Hebrew, "petter"]from the womb among the children of Israel. In man and beast they are to be mine. (Ex. 13:2)
"Petter" [spelled pei=80, tet=9, reish=200, totaling 289] has a numerical value of 288 [in gematria terminology, R'PaCh: reish=200, pei=80, chet=8, totaling 288] with the addition of 1 [a normal Kabbalistic hermeneutic known as the kollel]. And they [these 288] are the judgments. For it is not possible for the womb to open without [an emission of] blood [a physical manifestation of the supernal gevurot], and therefore the 288 Sparks fell [from the supernal womb so to speak], and they are the masculine judgments.
There are [in actuality] 325 [shin=300, chaf =20, hei=5, totaling 325] masculine judgments, the 288 together with the 32 Pathways and the 5 [final letters: mem, nun, tzadi, pei and chaf] that sweeten them. These are the original firstborn [Olam Ha'nikudim] that went forth and died [descended]. And there [above] went out a supernal kindness for their rectification [of the fallen masculine judgments]. Therefore, the Priests enter in their [the firstborns'] place [in the Temple service], like there [above] entered a supernal kindness, [which functions as] a priest in the place of the 288, which are the firstborn [above]… (Likutei Torah of Arizal, Bo)
Kabbala, as a spiritual path, is about coming into harmony with the flow of the Divine Will…
In this revelation of the Arizal, we see very clearly the profound relationship of our humanly performable commandments to the supernal correlates that they mirror. Ultimately, Kabbala, as a spiritual path, is about coming into harmony with the flow of the Divine Will as it courses its way through the supernal realms and into our own earthly planet and person.
We also start to detect a pattern from this teaching, that, in Kabbala, the firstborn is specifically not the most balanced expression of Creation. This applies whether we look at the earlier creation of the Olam Ha'nikudim where the Shattering of the Vessels took place or the Torah narratives in the book of Genesis. In the latter, we clearly see a pattern of spiritual descent with the firstborn, examples include: Cain, Ishmael, Esau and Reuben.
The sefirot in the Olam Ha'nikudim …were…the firstborn…
The organization of the sefirot in the Olam Ha'nikudim was the first instance where the sefirot were organized as individual entities. (Etz Chaim p.145) Thus in this sense the Arizal considers them firstborn, specifically as individual sefirot. In this position they were not prepared to receive the light they were to be vessels for and thus descended. (Ibid.) By analogy, often the firstborn inherits psychologically and spiritually more from the parents than they can integrate and thus they fall later with G‑d's help to reconstruct themselves. This is demonstrated as the Olam Ha'nikudim received a rectification in the emanation of the Olam Ha'berudim. (Ibid. p. 267)
Two classical examples of a firstborn son being unable to handle what was received from the father are Ishmael and Esau. Ishmael, as the firstborn of Abraham and Hagar (Gen. 16:4) was unable to handle the expansive powers of Kindness he inherited from Abraham's soul. Thus, Ishmael is associated with the negative quality of sexual promiscuity. (Zohar I:118a, Bereishit Rabba 53:15) This is understood as the power of chesed, an expansive force in an unbalanced container. The light overpowers the vessels and comes out in a distorted and fallen expression of chesed.
Esau was the firstborn of Isaac and Rebecca (Gen. 25:25) and was the recipient of a tremendous personal Power (gevura) from his father Isaac. Due to an unbalanced vessel however, that power was not directed inward, in the effort of containing and transforming the self into a pure vessel for the soul. Rather, it was distorted and became focused outward in violence. (Gen. 25:29, see Rashi on Pesachim 54b, s.v. Bigdo and Bava Batra 16b)
A new light…must come and make the rectification…
In each case, we see the same essential pattern as that of the Olam Ha'nikudim. The light is too powerful for the vessels and it causes a shattering, whether personal or supernal. Ultimately a new light, sefirotic array, or son, must come and make the rectification.
It would be well for us as individuals to pay attention to our own firstborn thoughts, goals, perceptions and choices and see to what extent do they conform to this negative dynamic of the fallen firstborn. We could ask ourselves in what ways have we been overwhelmed and imbalanced in life psychologically, spiritually or intellectually and we have fallen as a result. In such instances, we need the light of a priest, the embodiment of wise kindness, to help us rectify our often broken souls.
Here is an example of how this light/vessel dynamic works in our own psyche. Let us take the intellectual power of discrimination. This is a fine trait, essential for life and spiritual practice. However, if this quality is not appropriately channeled and tempered by other qualities of the soul like humility and holiness one can G‑d forbid fall into a judgmental and critical perspective of others and or oneself. In this case one's vessel cannot contain the light and discrimination becomes distorted and becomes expressed judgmentally.
It is not coincidence that the word for character trait in Hebrew is "midda", or "middot" in plural. "Middot" also means a measure as in measuring weights. We need, after all, to measure the exact amount of a quality and not let it become imbalanced on the scale of our life.
[Adapted by Zechariah Goldman.]
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
By meditating on the divine root of anger, one can fix it.
Shaar Ruach HaKodesh in the writings of the Ari, which contains (amongst other things) numerous remedies (tikunim) for various sins, includes Remedy #13 (p. 18a in the standard editions, p. 50 in the Brandwein edition), a rectification for anger:
The following is a remedy for someone who gets angry.
Anger betrays at least a temporary lapse in the individual's belief that G‑d runs the world…
Even though there is no explicit prohibition against anger in the Torah, it is nonetheless considered a most heinous sin, and the sages have even compared it to idolatry. This is because anger betrays at least a temporary lapse in the individual's belief that G‑d runs the world and is responsible for every occurrence in life. For if G‑d is responsible for everything, and everything G‑d does is good, how is it possible to get angry? It is only possible if the person feels, at least for that moment, that he knows better than G‑d what should be happening, and this is a subtle form of idolatry. He is considering his own understanding of how the world should be running superior to G‑d's.
My master, of blessed memory, before he departed for the life of the World to Come, wanted to teach all the members [of his following] a remedy for anger, but we did not merit to do it, since, because of our numerous sins, I forgot the full explanation. The gist of the matter, however, is this:
One should perform 151 fasts, corresponding to the numerical value of the word for "anger" [in Hebrew, "ca'as, spelled caf-ayin-samech] plus 1 for the value of the word itself [the kolel].
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains in the Tanya that all the fasts prescribed in the works of Kabbala for rectifying various sins do not constitute the substance of repentance, sincere regret for past deeds and resolve not to repeat them. Rather, they are intended, once the individual has already repented and been forgiven for his sin, to purify the soul from the damage the sin caused and to reinstate the individual in G‑d's favor. Furthermore, these fasts are essentially not practicable today since our constitutions are much weaker than those of previous generations. Instead, we are to redeem these fasts by giving charity.
There are three types of vengeance alluded to in the story of Pinchas: "by avenging", "My vengeance", and "I did not destroy the children of Israel in My vengeance". (Num. 25:11) During the morning prayers, one should meditate on the divine name Eh-yeh as it is spelled out with the letter hei, the numerical value of which is 151. During the afternoon prayers, one should meditate on the name Eh-yeh squared, which also equals 151. During the evening prayers, one should meditate on the divine names Ado-nai Elokim, the combined numerical values of which equal 151.
Rectifying … involves tracing it back to its source in this divine name…
This is explained in Shaar HaPesukim, and its parallel passage in Likutei Torah.
The idiom "vengeance" is mentioned three times in the verse.
"G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, turned back My anger against the children of Israel by avenging My vengeance against them. I therefore did not destroy the children of Israel in My vengeance." (Ibid.)
[The numerical value of the root of this word, "vengeance", spelled kuf-nun-alef, is 151, and is derived in three ways:] The numerical value of the divine name Eh-yeh, when spelled out using the letter hei is 151.
As we have explained previously, the divine names may be spelled out in various ways, depending on how the letters hei and vav are spelled. In the case of the name Eh-yeh (alef-hei-yud-hei), if the two letters hei are spelled out hei-hei, we have:
alef = Alef + Lamed + Pey = 1 + 30 + 80 = 111
hei = Hei + Hei = 5 + 5 = 10
yud = Yood + Vav + Dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20
hei = Hei + Hei = 5 + 5 = 10
Thus the gematria of the spelled out Name = 111 + 10 + 20 + 10 = 151
Spelling out ("milui" in Hebrew) signifies the fulfillment of latent potential, similar to the birth of a fetus hidden within the womb. Thus, in a certain sense, anger is the psychological fulfillment of the name Eh-yeh, and rectifying it involves tracing it back to its source in this divine name. This will be explained further on.
Furthermore, the numerical of the name Eh-yeh squared is also 151.
chanoch adds: The gematria method called "square" is explained in our classes on gematria. Essentially the idea of a square is to take each letter and then add the next letter. When all of these numbers are complete they are added together.
Aleph = 1 x 1 = 1
Hai = 5 x 5 = 25
Yood = 10 x 10 = 100
Hai = 5 x 5 = 25
If we take the sum of the squares of each of the four letters that compose this name, we have each number multiply by itself. 1 + 25 + 100 + 25 = 151. This technique, called "ribua perati" ("individual squaring"), signifies maturation and development, similar to the way a child matures (hopefully) as he grows into an adult. This is because squaring a number makes that number inter-include all its constituent units, and maturity means being able to see all sides of an issue and grant validity to other people.
Finally, the combined numerical values of the names Elokim and Ado-nai are 151.
Elokim: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem (1+30+5+10+40 = 86); Ado-nai: alef-nun-dalet-yud (1+50+4+10 = 65). 65+86 = 151. The name Elokim signifies G‑d's attribute of judgment and severity, while the name Ado-nai signifies His attribute of authority and dominion ("adon", in Hebrew, means "master" or "ruler"). When these two divine attributes are combined, this also can produce anger, and thus the rectification of anger involves as well tracing it back to these two attributes in the soul, as will be explained further on.These three aspects of vengeance are alluded to in the verse: "I descended to the garden of nuts." (Songs 6:11) The numerical value of the word for "garden of" [in Hebrew "ginat", gimel-nun-tav] is 453, which is 3 times 151.
In Kabbala, the nut symbolizes the phenomenon of evil surrounding holiness, just as the shells of the nut surround the inner meat. Here, too, anger is a shell which must be discarded, and in so doing one reveals the inner goodness of the soul.This is the end of this passage in Shaar HaPesukim and its parallel passage in Likutei Torah.
(I am not sure if he told us to do it this way or oppositely, that is, to meditate on what is said above regarding the evening prayers during the afternoon prayers and vice versa.)
By changing the vowels…one is filling the vessel with various types of light…
The way this is done is as follows. We shall explain with regard to how one meditates during the morning prayers of the 151 fast days, and from this you will understand how to meditate during the other prayers. On the first fast day, you should meditate [during the morning prayers] on the letter alef. During the next thirty fast days, you should meditate [during the morning prayers] on the letter lamed [whose numerical value is 30], this being the second letter of the spelling-out of the letter alef [i.e., the first letter of the name Eh-yeh]. During the next eighty fast days, you should meditate [during the morning prayers] on the letter pei [whose numerical value is 80], this being the third letter of the spelling-out of the letter alef. In this way you should meditate [on the remaining letters of the spelling-out of the name Eh-yeh] for the duration of the 151 fast days.
Schematically, this would look like this:
First Day of the fast meditate on the Alef
Days 2 to 31 meditate on the letter Lamed
Days 32 to 111 meditate on the letter Pey
Days 112 to 116 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 117 to 121 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 122 to 131 Meditate on the letter Yood
Days 132 to 137 Meditate on the letter Vav
Days 138 to 141 Meditate on the letter Dalet
Days 142 to 146 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 147 to 151 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 1 Meditate on the letter Aleph
Days 1 Meditate on the letter Aleph
Days 2 to 26 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 27 to 126 Meditate on the letter Yood
Days 127 to Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 1 Meditate on the letter Aleph
Days 2 to 5 Meditate on the letter Dalet
Days 6 to 55 Meditate on the letter Nun
Days 56 to 65 Meditate on the letter Yood
Days 66 Meditate on the letter Aleph
Days 67 to 96 Meditate on the letter Lamed
Days 97 to 101 Meditate on the letter Hai
Days 102 to 111 Meditate on the letter Yood
Days 112 to 151 Meditate on the letter Mem
I do not remember which vowels to use when meditating on these names.
Although every name of G‑d has its natural vocalization, these names may be visualized as being vocalized with other vowels (since, after all, one does not pronounce these names while meditating on them, but merely visualizes and contemplates them). In Kabbala, the vowels signify the light that fills the vessels (signified by the letters). By changing the vowels, then, one is filling the vessel with various types of light.
I also do not remember at which exact point in the prayers one is to perform these meditations. All I remember is that they are to be done during the prayers, as I said. If, however, one wishes to meditate on these ideas throughout the whole day, so much the better.
In order to assuage anger, it is also effective to meditate - when one becomes angry - on the name Eh-yeh spelled out with the letter hei. As mentioned above, the numerical value of this name is the same as that of the word for "anger" [with the kolel].
From this remedy we see that prayer is an integral part of the process of rectifying anger. Furthermore, all three aspects of anger must be addressed: the fulfillment of the name Eh-yeh, the maturation of the name Eh-yeh, and the combination of the names Elokim and Ado-nai.
chanoch adds: In my opinion, This technique regarding rectifying negative character traits with fasting can be applied to all negative traits. The need is to know what is the root Names of HaShem. Also one should utilize rather than fast days giving Tzedakah in the same pattern - day by day.
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
While focusing on certain divine names during prayer, one can fix anger.
Shaar Ruach HaKodesh in the writings of the Ari, which contains (amongst other things) numerous remedies (tikunim) for various sins, includes Remedy #15 (p. 18b in the standard editions, p. 50-52 in the Brandwein edition), a (second) rectification for anger:
Here is another way to remove anger when it overtakes a person, beside the remedy mentioned previously. If a person meditates on what follows, the [aspect of the] evil inclination that causes anger will be nullified. It will therefore be effective [in eliminating anger] - unless, of course, the person willfully chooses to become angry.
The two names Ado-nai and Elokim…signify the two types of courts: lenient and strict… Let us first explain what anger is. As we explained above, there are three types [and derivations] of vengeance [in Hebrew, "kina", whose numerical value is 151]: the name Eh-yeh when spelled out with the letter hei, giving a numerical value of 151; the combined numerical values of the names Ado-nai and Elokim, which equal 151; and the square of the name Eh-yeh, which equals 151. All these equal the numerical value of the word for "anger" [in Hebrew, "ka'as"] plus 1 for the word as a whole.
We see from this that anger derives from the two names Ado-nai and Elokim, which signify the two types of courts: lenient and strict. When these two names are combined, anger issues from them.
chanoch adds: In the Book of Genesis 2 sons of Jacob - Shimon and Levi killed the population of Schem over the rape of Dinah. These two represent the two types of courts - lenient and strict. This is why the Sages say that when these energies combine the world can not withstand the onslaught.
In other words, being judgmental (i.e., acting like a court) is the source of anger. The connection between anger and the name Eh-yeh will be discussed presently. The name Elokim signifies strict judgment, and the name Ado-nai lenient judgment. In Kabbala, the name Elokim is associated chiefly with the sefira of gevura and the name Ado-nai with the sefira of malchut. Judgment is obviously an essential aspect of both of these attributes. When allowed to get out of hand, however, it degenerates into anger.
This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "for I, G‑d your G‑d, am a jealous G‑d." (Ex. 20:5, Deut. 5:9)
The italicized "G‑d" is the translation of the name Havayah, which is read nowadays as the name Ado-nai. The non-italicized "G‑d" immediately following is the translation of the name Elokim. Thus, the combination of these two names makes G‑d "a jealous G‑d", exacting vengeance.
For anger derives from these two names, Ado-nai and Elokim, whose combined numerical value is 151.
This is also alluded to in the verse: "For anger rests in the bosom of fools." (Ecclesiastes 7:9) The numerical value of the word for "in the bosom of" [in Hebrew, "becheik", spelled beit-chet-yud-kuf] is 120, which is the number of permutations of the name Elokim, from whence anger derives.
The name Elokim comprises five letters (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem), and five letters produce 120 permutations: 5! = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120. The different permutations of this name indicate all the various types of judgment.
Now, the word "becheik" comprises the letters of the word "Yabok" [spelled yud-beit-kuf] together with the letter chet inserted in the middle.
The Yabok is a tributary of the Jordan river and…signifies the context of the struggle between good and evil…
The Yabok is a tributary of the Jordan river and was the scene of Jacob's night-time encounter with the angel of Esau. (Genesis 32:23-33) As such, it signifies the context of the struggle between good and evil.
The significance of this is that when the name Havayah is joined to the name Elokim the negativity of the name Elokim is sweetened by the mercy of the name Havayah. The combined numerical value of these names is that of "Yabok", which equals 112.
Just as the name Elokim is associated with G‑d's attribute of judgment, the name Havayah is associated with His attribute of mercy. Judgment is not intrinsically negative, of course, since proper discernment is necessary in order to recognize good and evil and separate them. Only when judgment is allowed to overtake a person's consciousness does it become a negative force, resulting eventually in anger. Therefore, care must always be taken to moderate and mitigate judgment with mercy.
Through anger, the individual introduces the letter chet into this word…
This interplay between judgment and mercy may be seen as the struggle between Jacob and Esau's angel (not Esau himself - for he is the personification of fallen judgement, i.e., anger and violence - but his "angel" or spiritual origin). They are both legitimate, but Jacob (mercy) must always retain the upper hand. This is why this struggle took place at the Yabok river, for as we said, the numerical value of Yabok is 112, the sum of the numerical values of the name Havayah (26) and Elokim (86).
However, through anger, the individual introduces the letter chet into this word. The numerical value of chet is 8, alluding to the eight kings of who ruled the land of Edom. [By inserting them into the picture,] the individual causes the world to revert to chaos.
Edom is the kingdom of Esau, and thus signifies unmitigated judgment. As such, this kingdom and the eight kings who ruled it (Genesis 36:31-39) express the energy of the world of Tohu ("chaos"), the order of creation that preceded the rectified order of Tikun or Atzilut. In this world, the sefirot could not interact because they did not allow each other to enter each other's vessels. In other words, they exhibited excessive severity, judgment, and self-centeredness. By exhibiting anger, the individual causes the world to regress to this level.
This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "And the querulous man alienates his friend." (Proverbs 16:29)
The word used for "friend" in this verse, "aluf", is the same as that for "chieftain", possibly alluding to the chieftains of Edom. (Genesis 36:15-19) The meaning would then be that an angry person separates between people, causing the world to regress into the state of Tohu.
When the name Havayah is thus separated from the name Elokim, this produces the state of severe judgment, which in turn leads to anger. The root of this anger is in the 120 permutations of the name Elokim, which is the numerical value of the word "in the bosom of", as we have noted.
Now that we have explained the damage [caused by anger], we can explain the remedy. Since anger causes the name Havayah to be dissociated from the name Elokim, the remedy is to join them together again.
This is done as follows: During the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers, when reciting the first three blessings of the Standing Prayer, one should meditate on the following: When saying "Blessed are You, O G‑d" during the first blessing (Avot), one should, when saying the name Havayah, meditate on the spelling of this name whose numerical value is 72, i.e., as it is spelled out using the letter yud. He should also intend [in his mind] to unite this name with the name Eh-yeh as it is spelled out using the letter yud.
When saying "Blessed are You, O G‑d" during the second blessing (Gevurot), one should, when saying the name Havayah, meditate on the spelling of this name whose numerical value is 63. He should in addition intend to unite this name with the name Elokim. This he does by visualizing the name Havayah vocalized with the vowels of the name Elokim.
The name Elokim has three vowels (chataf-segol, cholam, chirik). These should be envisioned as appearing together with the first three letters of the name Havayah. The second blessing of the Standing Prayer is called Gevurot ("powers") since it discusses G‑d's power and strength. The name Havayah whose numerical value is 63 is associated with the sefira of bina. Inasmuch as bina is the source of gevura, joining these two names in effect grants gevura an experience of its source, or returns gevura to its source in bina.
As we said above, bina is the analysis through which the insight of chochma is processed. This process entails evaluating one's preconceived notions and way of thinking in light of the new insight, a process of judgment and severity, since old ideas that do not jibe with the new insight will have to be rejected. Thus, bina is the source of gevura. However, it is always necessary to keep gevura connected to its source in bina, so that it retains the "personality" of an objective arbitrator rather than degenerating into an arbitrary despot.
When saying "Blessed are You, O G‑d" during the third blessing (Kedushat HaShem), one should, when saying the name Havayah, meditate on the spelling of this name whose numerical value is 45, i.e., as it is spelled out using the letter alef. He should in addition intend to unite this name with the name Ado-nai.
In the mikveh…he should meditate on the fact that the numerical value of the word "mikveh" is the same as that of the word for "anger" and that of the name "Eh-yeh" spelled out with the letter hei…
The name Havayah whose numerical value is 45 is associated with the concept of humility. The numerical value of the word for "what" ("mah") is 45, and the question "what?" implies a humble admission that one does not know everything. Moses, the humblest man on earth (see Num. 12:3) said of himself and his brother Aaron, "What are we?," (Ex. 16:7,8) i.e., "we are, or personify, the attribute of 'what.'"
This attribute is the essential compliment and inner dimension of the attribute of malchut, sovereignty. This was exemplified by King David, the quintessential monarch, who declared of himself, "I shall be lowly in my own estimation." (Samuel II, 6:22)
Thus, in the second and third blessings of the Standing Prayer, he has connected the name Havayah with the names Elokim and Ado-nai, which are the two powers of judgment from which anger is numerically derived, as we have said. In this way, he has sweetened them by associating them with the name Havayah.
The way to prevent anger is thus to ensure that one's power of judgement is always mitigated by mercy. The third blessing of the Standing Prayer is called Kedushat HaShem ("the holiness of G‑d's name), for this is its subject.
In the first blessing of the Standing Prayer, he has also through his meditation sweetened the source of these two powers of judgment, that is, the name Eh-yeh, from which anger also is derived when it is spelled out with the letter hei, as we have mentioned. This name is sweetened by the name Havayah spelled out to equal 72. Thus, all three aspects of anger have been rectified: the root and its two branches.
Below we will relate the above discussion in a short specific description of the Name to be rectified and the Name HaShem used to rectify it.
In the Amidah:
First Blessing (Avot) - Eh-yeh (will & understanding) - Havayah = 72 (wisdom in mercy)
second blessing (Gevurot) - Elokim (severity) - Havayah = 63 (understanding in mercy)
third blessing (Kedushat HaShem) - Ado-nai (sovereignty) - Havayah = 45 (humility in mercy)
The Arizal makes another recommendation for insulating oneself from anger:
In addition, one should immerse in the mikveh twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays…. When he immerses, he should meditate on the fact that the numerical value of the word "mikveh" [spelled mem-kuf-vav-heh, 151] is the same as that of the word for "anger" [ka'as, 150 plus the kolel] and that of the name "Eh-yeh" spelled out with the letter hei . He should intend through these immersions that the anger that overcomes him be nullified, provided that he persists in immersing this way.
From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky
Rinsing before Grace functions as a bribe to the Other Side
One of the laws regarding Grace After Meals is that of rinsing the hands before reciting the blessings, known as "mayim acharonim", literally "after-waters".
Know that the "Other Side" hovers over the table, as is described in the Zohar (Zohar II:154a,b) and can gain control over an individual more than it can at other times.
As described in the Zohar, eating and drinking by their nature bolster a person's material orientation, thereby desensitizing him to spirituality and divinity. One is thus, after having eaten his full, particularly susceptible to the power of evil.
This is particularly true if he has eaten by himself, and there are not three to recite Grace together. For the Invitation to Recite Grace drives away Other Side from there, as is mentioned in the Zohar (Zohar III:186b) regarding the incident of the young child.
According to Jewish law, if three or more men or three or more women have eaten bread together, they must recite Grace together. One of the party acts as the leader and formally invites the others to join him in reciting Grace. The positive energy generated by their camaraderie overcomes the negative power of evil…
In the Zohar, it is recounted that the young, orphaned son of Rabbi Hamnuna the Elder possessed great spiritual perception and mystical knowledge of the Torah. One of the teachings he shared with his guests, two students of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, was that when the Invitation to Recite Grace is recited, it weakens the power of evil present at the table.
The collective power of the three individuals' divine souls and the positive energy generated by their camaraderie overcomes the negative power of evil. This occurs, however, only when they consciously combine their individual energies together to recite Grace, that is, to focus on the spiritual dimension of the meal rather than simply the sensual pleasure of eating. Hence the power and importance of the Invitation to Recite Grace.
A person must therefore be very careful to have the proper intentions when rinsing his fingertips after the meal, in order that [the Other Side] not prosecute him.
Whenever a person succumbs to the temptations of evil, the sin he performs acts as a "prosecutor" against him in the heavenly court.
For by giving it this gift, as is known, the Other Side departs, leaving [the person alone]. In the beginning [of the meal] it is just a guest, but if the individual does not recite Grace with the proper intention and concentration it becomes the host and prosecutes against him. As we said, this is particularly true if one dines by himself, without the [protection offered by the] Invitation to Recite Grace.
Rinsing the remains of the meal off the fingertips is seen as "throwing the dog a bone." Evil possesses no intrinsic power; it derives its power solely by virtue of man's misdeeds. However, it must be present to at least some minimal extent in order for there to be free choice. If evil receives this minimal sustenance, it is satisfied, and, realizing that it has nothing more to expect from this meal, departs.
The mystical meaning of this statement is thus that when washing the fingertips after the meal one must meditate on the name Eh-yeh.
Now, one should not make any interruption between rinsing the fingertips and reciting Grace After Meals. I [Chaim Vital] was once with my master [the Ari] and someone came to me and said that he had been suffering from severe shoulder pains for two days. My master looked at him and said that this pain came from his having interrupted between rinsing the fingertips and reciting Grace After Meals by studying a chapter of the Mishna. He thus transgressed the instruction of our sages to proceed directly from the rinsing to the blessing. (Berachot 42a) In so doing, he transmuted the word for "directly" [in Hebrew, "teikef", spelled tav-kaf-pei] into the word for "shoulder" ["kateif", kaf-tav-pei] and he felt the pain there.
One must not make any interruption between the rinsing and the recital of Grace…
From this we see that one must not make any interruption between the rinsing and the recital of Grace, even with words from the Torah. If one wishes to converse [at his table] in the Torah, as our sages have said one should, he should do so before the rinsing of the fingertips.
By not allowing any interruption between rinsing the fingertips and the recitation of Grace, the individual demonstrates that they form one conceptual unit, that is, the spiritual meaning of the former is also that of the latter.
Nonetheless, one should recite the following verses after rinsing the fingertips, before beginning the Grace After Meals: the entire Psalm 67, and then the verse, "I will bless G‑d at all times; His praise is always in my mouth." (Psalms 34:2) This is because the Other Side hovers over the table, as we have said, and it is called "at all times", as in the verse, "He must not come into the sanctuary at all times." (Lev. 15:2) The person…is declaring his wish to orient his consciousness toward the divine dimension of eating…
The Torah commands that the High Priest not enter the Holy of Holies whenever he wants ("at all times"), but rather only on the day of Yom Kippur. In this context, the phrase "at all times" is seen as something that prevents one from entering the realm of holiness, i.e., evil. Reciting the verse "I will bless G‑d at all times" is thus seen as a formula that neutralizes the power of evil present at the table.
It is interesting to note that Yom Kippur, the one day when the Torah allows the High Priest to enter the inner sanctum of the Temple, is a total fast day. On this day, of course, the evil that can potentially become empowered through the process of eating is not operative.
In order to remove [the evil] from there [i.e. the table], one must recite [the Invitation to Recite Grace, i.e.] "Bring us [the goblet] and we will bless", as is stated in the story of the young child in the Zohar. We therefore recite the verse "I will bless G‑d at all times…", in case a person is eating by himself and cannot say "Bring us and we will bless".
One should then say: "Ultimately, all is known: fear G‑d and observe His commandments, for this is the whole purpose of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
Then, one should say: "My mouth will utter the praise of G‑d, and let all flesh praise His holy Name forever", (Psalms 145:21) "And we will bless G‑d from now to all eternity. Praise G‑d", (Ibid. 115:18) and "And he said to me, this is the table that is before G‑d". (Ezekiel 41:22)
[Note: In Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s formulation of the liturgy, all the above save this verse is recited before rinsing the fingertips.]
Only then should he commence Grace After Meals.
The common denominator of all these verses is that the person saying them is declaring his wish to orient his consciousness toward the divine dimension of eating rather than its worldly, material, aspects. As such, these verses do not constitute a thematic interruption between the rinsing of the fingertips and the recitation of Grace.
Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaMitzvot, Ekev; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard." available at Kabbala Online Shop]
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