Advanced Reincarnation Class 25

Shaarai Gilgulim - Gate of Reincarnations

As taught to Rabbi Chaim Vital by Rabbi Isaac Luria and Amended by Rabbi Chaim's Son Shemuel.

Translated from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher of Blessed Memory and Completed by Rabbi Perets Aurback.

Published online with commentary by Kabbala

This version will not have all of the commentary.

Please note: The publisher explains that the Study of Kabbalistic Texts usually recommends that one review the material many times until they are familiar with the vocabulary at a minimum.

Also Note: Bold Text represents the translation of the original Text. Regular text represents the commentary and explanation of the translator. Chanoch's comments will be identified separately.

Why Souls Reincarnate?

Chapter 8 Section 1

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

This short chapter consists of this section only. The list of reasons for reincarnation given here is not intended to be exhaustive, but it is interesting because of the interplay between the male and female aspects of souls that is described herein.

There are several reasons for the reincarnation of souls. It can be because a person sinned against the Torah and must return to rectify it. It can be to perform a mitzvah he previously had not completed. A third reason is for the sake of another individual, to guide and rectify him.

In the first scenario, he can easily sin since he originally transgressed. In the second case, he is less likely to sin. In the third, he certainly will not sin.

Sometimes he will reincarnate in order to marry his soul-mate….

There are other reasons as well. Sometimes he will reincarnate in order to marry his soul-mate because he did not merit to do so the first time. Sometimes he may have already married his soul-mate, but he sinned and must return to rectify it, as was explained above. In this case he will come back alone, as Sabba of Mishpatim has written (Zohar 105b) on the verse, "If he came by himself…" (Ex. 21:3). Sometimes he has merits, and even though she does not need to reincarnate she returns with him. This is the secret of the verse, "…his wife will go out with him" (ibid.).

The last two possibilities are opposite of each other. Either he sinned alone and returns alone without his soul mate, or he may have merit and she will return with him even though she has no need to reincarnate on her own.

Sometimes, a person did not merit to take his soul-mate the first time, but a wife comes along for him according to his deeds. Among the souls of all the women in the world, there are none as close to him as this woman, even though she is not his actual soul-mate. When he sins and reincarnates, he will do so with this woman, even though she does not need to reincarnate for herself, and even though she is not his actual soul-mate.

chanoch's Commentary

Please realize the teaching that i teach about soulmates. Each person who marries becomes a soul mate for the period of time the couple remains married. The above paragraph reinforces this teaching since the women returns as part of the Tikune as his soul mate even though the ARIzal is teaching that she is not his Cosmic Soul Mate.

Furthermore, there are some roots of souls, men and their feminine soul-mates, who have fallen off into the kelipot. It is possible that the males will be able to leave the kelipot into this world, but their female consorts cannot go out at all until Mashiach comes.

We have already learned that the female aspect is more susceptible to negative forces than the male because "…Her feet go down to death".

Now they are sunk and given over into the authority of the female kelipa.

We have already learned beforehand that the feminine aspect of the kelipa is lower and more deeply in trouble. Thus, the female aspects of these souls are in the lowest of places, and they cannot get out.

I have forgotten if her name (i.e. the name of the female kelipa) is "Igrit" daughter of Machlat, or "Naamah" mother of Sheidim.

"Sheidim" is also the Hebrew word for "demons", and no doubt this fact is applicable here.

Indeed, all the female souls of the entire root of Hur, son of Miriam, cannot leave until Mashiach comes.

Miriam is the sister of Moses, our teacher. Hur appears in the Book of Exodus, Chapters 17 and 24. He was also the grandfather of Bezalel, who knew how to permutate the letters by which the world was created, and consequently was the chief artisan in the construction of the Tabernacle.

I believe that I heard from my teacher that Aaron the Priest did not marry his soul-mate, since he was close to the root of the soul of Hur, son of Miriam, his sister.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

chanoch's Commentary

Many people have commented upon the reason why more women seem interested in spirituality than men. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that the female is the internal aspect and the internal is closer to the higher levels. Yet the higher aspect falls to the lowest aspect. Then when it arises it is considered as having risen more since it rose from a lower level.

Another reason which comes from this same effect is that women tend to work in the negative spiritual paths like witch craft and the like. This is true in all lifetimes and therefore these aspects must be corrected. Yet remember each women when they die and go to heaven first get cleansed in Gehinom so none of these aspects need to be cleansed in the physical world. Although this aspect might not be cleansed in Gehinom since the knowledge exists that the reincarnation will take place and they may leave this to be cleansed in the physical world in this way.

The three reasons given for reincarnation is not an exhaustive list. One effect of Torah study is that one must do all 613 Mitzvot and that can only be done today through Torah Study since the Temple does not exist in the physical world as we perceive it. Torah Study prevents one from going to Gehinom and the only place negative actions can be corrected is in the process of reincarnation. This is another reason for reincarnation. In our generation this is the first time this is applying to the female half of the soul.

The section below i felt is appropriate for chapter 8 since it deals with women as does this aspect of the teachings.

Chain of Soul Information

Outline of Jewish genealogy of Nations

Traditional Judaism describes Abraham as the first Jew. With his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob, they are described as the "Fathers" of the Jewish people, and their wives, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah are the "Mothers". These terms take on Kabbalistic meanings by being associated with some of the different Sephirot (Divine emanations). It was Moses, in traditional Judaism, who later received the teachings of Judaism at Mount Sinai, embodied in the Torah and 613 mitzvot. The other "Nations of the World", counted as 70 roots from Noah, are given the Seven Laws of Noah for spiritual redemption, and do not need to convert to Judaism, in Jewish thought, to fulfil the eschatological purpose of Creation, or private salvation.

Associations of particular figures with their Reincarnations in Judaism

This section comes from Wikipedia dealing with Kabbalah

Chaim ibn Attar in his classic commentary on the Torah identifies Moses as the gilgul of Abel, and Rabbi Akiva as the gilgul of Cain. This is also taught by the ARIzal in the Shaar HaGilgulim.

There is a Famous Jewish amulet attributed to Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujhel. While Hasidism sidelined gilgulim and Kabbalistic Kavanot, Hasidic Rebbes could follow these areas, without it externalising their inner dveikut

chanoch's Commentary

The above comment is a justification why everyday Hasidism are allowed to tell people that they do not believe in Reincarnation even when the deeper teachings of Hasidism do know the truth of this idea.

The Hasidic Rebbe, Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujhel (1759–1841), who was one of the founders of Hasidism in Hungary, told his followers that he had been reincarnated three times, which he recalled. His first gilgul was as a sheep in the flock of the Biblical Patriarch Jacob. He sang to his followers the song, he said, that Jacob sang in the pastures. His second gilgul was in the time of Moses, and his third gilgul, which he did not disclose out of humility, was in the time of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem. His followers asked another Hasidic Rebbe, who identified the third gilgul as the Biblical Prophet Jeremiah. In Hasidic history, his daily life especially reflected a yearning for the building of the Third Temple with the arrival of the Messiah. In his later days he wore his Shabbat clothing the entire week, anticipating the Messiah's arrival.

The contemporary scholar of Kabbalah and Hasidut, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, identifies Isaac Newton as the modern reincarnation of Noah on his website. He uses gematria in this identification, but also describes associations that run deeper. In the commentary of the Zohar on the story of Noah's flood, the Zohar gives a prediction that in the latter part of the 6th millennium in the Hebrew calendar dating system (the secular years 1740-1840), a great increase in "Wisdom (In the flood: water) from Above, and Wisdom (Biblically: water) from Below" will be revealed to prepare for the 7th Messianic millennium. If the generation of Noah had been worthy, their flood would have taken the form of wisdom rather than destructive water. This predicted expansion of Torah wisdom ("from Above") and Secular Wisdom and Science (from "Below") was instead delayed until the 6th millennium. This interpretation ties Newton, the founding forerunner of Modern Science, with Biblical Noah. Additionally, Newton rejected Trinitarian ideas in favour of Old Testament Monotheism, a more complete expression of the Seven Laws of Noah. He devoted his scholarly activity as much to esoteric calculations of Bible Codes and the Third Temple, of which Noah's Ark is seen in Jewish commentary as the spiritual prototype, as much as to Mathematics and Physics. His Newtonian physics defined the mechanistic philosophy of Science until modern Physics broke it, analogous to "Wisdom from Above" superseding "Wisdom from Below". Additionally, the Seven Colours of Newton's prism split light are the Jewish symbol for the Seven Laws of Noah.

Yitzchak Ginsburgh uses this Kabbalistic identification to support his articulation of the inner Kabbalistic meaning of the Noahide Laws, which have both outer legislation in Halachah, and inner meaning in Kabbalah. Their inner meaning helps fulfil the eschatological role of each Righteous Noahide in the Jewish Messianic description of Universal Redemption for all Nations of the World.

chanoch's Commentary

I am overwealmed by the depth and beauty built into the above paragraphs. There is so much to comment upon that i do not have permission to do so. Please realize and consider what is being hinted to within these paragraph's.

Floating Towers - Introduction to Chapter 9

Chapter 9 Section - Introduction

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

Chapter Nine involves one of the four hundred questions that Doeg and Achitophel asked concerning "the Tower Floating in the Air". The sources for this extraordinary image, "the Tower Floating in the Air", are in the Talmud and the Zohar. In Talmud, Chagiga 15b the number of questions asked by Doeg and Achitophel is "three hundred". In Talmud Sanhedrin 106a two numbers, three hundred and four hundred are both recorded. In the Zohar (II:102a) the number of questions is "four hundred", and that is the number that the Arizal favors.

chanoch's Commentary

These 300 or 400 questions is an aspect of tradition and our teachings of Kabbalah about which it is said that these questions posed by Doeg and Achitophel can not and will not be answered until Mashiach comes. This is related to the metaphorical teachings that there are 32 sparks of wisdom that can not be elevated out of the Klipot until Mashiach comes and defeats Satan. These questions are imposible to discern the answers using logic. They can only be answered by the intuition of the Mashiach. This paradox is difficult for people searching for truth to accept. Remember that 400 is a number relating to completion and perfection. Three hundred is a number relating to passion and growing the vessel. These concepts will be answered or hinted at below.

The following is the text of the Talmud, Chagiga:

Samuel found Rabbi Yehuda leaning against a doorpost and weeping. He said to him, "Keen scholar, why are you crying?"

He replied, "Is it a small matter what is written concerning the Rabbis? …Where is he who counted? Where is he who weighed? Where is he that counted the towers? (Isaiah 33:18)

"Where is he who counted" refers to scholars who counted all the letters in the Torah. "Where is he who weighed" refers to those who weighed the laws of the Torah to determine which are heavy and which are light. "Where is he that counted the towers" alludes to those that taught three hundred laws concerning a Tower Floating in the Air.

Erudition to Obscure and Confound

chanoch's Commentary

There is a part of the Zohar referred to as Nei'elan. This is translated as commentary of the obscure. This part of the Zohar is very esoteric. It is dealing with subjects that relate to the 400 questions that have not yet been purified and therefore answering them brings the negative system into contact with the pure system.

The Laws of Spiritual Purity and Defilement are the most difficult, obscure and esoteric in all Jewish Law. One of the main sections of this category of Law is taught in Mishna Ohalot, and it is one of the most difficult and one of the most obscure. Indeed, in these days, centuries after the destruction of the Temple, nearly all of these laws are no longer practiced, and the scholars who are proficient in them are few.

Mishnah Ohalot, Chapter Four, teaches about "a tower standing in the air". It refers to a tower (a small portable closet resting on thin legs) standing outside, under the roof of the sky, as opposed to a tower located within another building. Nevertheless, according to Rashi (Chagiga15b), the leading commentator of the Talmud and Bible, and based upon his supreme authority, the "tower standing in the air" is none other than our "Tower Floating in the Air".

[Rashi does provide another alternative interpretation, but it is hardly less esoteric than the one that will be discussed here. According to the alternative interpretation "the tower floating in the air" refers to the top of the Hebrew letter lamed which protrudes like a tower above all the other letters.]

Doeg and Achitophel …desired…to disclose esoteric secrets for selfish and impure reasons...

When does its contents remain undefiled in opposition to the environment surrounding it? If it contains something defiled, under what circumstances does it defile the surrounding environment? These are some of the questions concerning this section of Mishna Ohalot.

In brief, "those that taught three hundred laws concerning a Tower Floating in the Air" refers to those that were proficient in a very difficult section of Jewish Law. It is a section that was also obscure and esoteric, even in the days of the Talmud, even in the days of King David. These scholars were few and great, and Rabbi Yehuda was crying over their disappearance.

Rabbi Ami said, "Three hundred questions were asked by Doeg and Achitophel concerning a Tower Floating in the Air."

In Talmud Sanhedrin this teaching is also stated in the name of Rabbi Ami, but the number of questions recorded there is "four hundred". These questions were asked by Doeg and Achitophel who have in common, in addition to their keen intellects, implacable enmity to King David, the prototype of Mashiach. They were not motivated by the pursuit of truth. Rather, they desired to confound and obscure, to disclose esoteric secrets for selfish and impure reasons, and especially to use their erudition as a weapon against David, the Messiah King. Asking these four hundred questions on the three hundred laws concerning a Tower Floating in the Air, they are, so to speak, the devil quoting Scriptures. This view is supported by the text in Talmud Sanhedrin:

Rabbi Ami said, "Four hundred questions were asked by Doeg and Achitophel concerning a Tower Floating in the Air, and none of them were answered."

Rabba said, "Is it such a great thing to ask questions! In the years of Rabbi Yuda they only studied the Laws of Damages."

Rashi explains there (in Tractate Sanhedrin) that "G-d wants [the service] of the heart," and not impure erudition. Rabba's statement is intended to disparage the greatness of men like Doeg and Achitophel who use their sharp minds in such a negative way - to ask four hundred confounding questions. In contrast, in the generation of Rabbi Yuda the esoteric Laws of Spiritual Defilement were not even studied, but only the straightforward, practical Laws of Damages.

Spiritual Defilement Entering the Line of King David?

Furthermore, in the Mishna Ohalot that begins with "the tower that is standing in the air", the main theme is the rule that spiritual defilement "goes out, but it doesn't go in". Thus, if there is something defiled inside the tower, then it's influence will go out, under certain circumstances, to defile objects in the environment around the tower. However, if the impurity is outside, it will not enter into the tower to defile objects that are within it. Doeg and Achitophel wanted to prove otherwise; and in the same way to claim that something entered into the gilgul of King David or his antecedents that made him ineligible for kingship.

It was far from outlandish to suppose that there really was something seriously wrong in the line of King David. Come and see who his antecedents were. From the side of his ancestress, Ruth the Moabite woman, there was the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters (which is just about the lowest of the low) as well as the law that prohibits Moabites from converting into the congregation of Israel. His father's line was also full of problems. First there was Er and Onan, Judah and Tamar. Afterwards came the story of Elimelech and Naomi, their two sons Machlon and Chilyon, and the strange "levirate" marriage (yibum) of Boaz and Ruth. These difficulties, by the way, are some of the subject matter dealt with by the Sabba in Zohar, Mishpatim, which is the section that will be briefly introduced in this introduction.

Moreover, mystery and doubt surrounded the birth of David. His father, Jesse, had separated from his wife after the birth of their seventh son. How did she come to be pregnant once again, and according to her, impregnated by her husband who didn't remember a thing? Finally, the incident of David with Bat Sheva belongs in this category as well (see 7:10) since it also served as a prominent argument for those who wanted to derail the Davidic dynasty.

In addition, there is another interpretation of "the Tower Floating in the Air" that it refers to the erected, male sexual organ. In this case the questions of Doeg and Achitophel refer to the complicated and questionable sexual history of the Davidic line as outlined here. The purpose of their questions, accordingly, is the same as what has been explained. According to Doeg and Achitophel something entered into the gilgul of King David or his antecedents that made him ineligible for kingship.

Who Were Doeg and Achitophel?

Doeg, in addition to being the head of the Sanhedrin (the ancient court and legislature of Israel) also commanded the special police of King Saul. In that capacity he pursued David relentlessly, and of all the advisers of King Saul he was the most insistent that David had to be eliminated.

When David appeared out of obscurity to kill Goliath, King Saul began to inquire after his identity and the lineage of his family. Doeg answered, "Before you inquire about the lineage of his family, inquire whether they are even allowed to be members of the congregation?" Since one of the matriarchs of the family is Ruth the Moabite woman, according to Doeg (the Edomite), her ancestors are not even allowed to be part of the Jewish people. In this way he wanted to banish David from any position of leadership despite the fact that permission for a Moabite woman (as opposed to a man) to enter the congregation had already been decided by several courts before his time.

Achitophel was the wisest of all counselors in the generation of King David. Had Absalom, King David' son, followed the advice of Achitophel when he rebelled against his father, then David's cause would have been lost and the King would have been killed. Indeed, it may be that the entire rebellion was the design of Achitophel, and Absalom was just a helpless dupe against a force like that.

Many divisions of soldiers fighting for Absalom did not threaten David as much as Achitophel joining the ranks of the rebellion. For this reason David prayed special prayers, and he sent special, secret agents to infiltrate the ranks of Absalom's counselors for the specific purpose of frustrating the advice of Achitophel.

It is not insignificant that King David is the prototype of Mashiach, and these two, Doeg and Achitophel, with their great minds and keen perceptions, were the most implacable and most dangerous of his enemies. Typical of secret agents working behind the lines, with these questions they wanted to confound and confuse, hoping in that way to cast doubts upon the legitimacy of the Davidic dynasty. Furthermore, they wanted to uncover a secret weakness in the root of King David's soul, a defilement or impurity in his gilgul, or in the gilgulim of his antecedents. In this way they hoped to gain the power to stop the Redemption.

Floating in the Air With Nothing to Rest Upon

There is another possible interpretation to the four hundred questions of Doeg and Achitophel on the Tower Floating in the Air. Mishna Nedarim 10a makes the following statement: "(The annulment of) Vows are floating in the air and they do not have anything to anchor upon…." In other words, the body of law concerning the authority of the court to annul vows does not have any scriptural source to rest upon, and it is not anchored in any scriptural source although it has become established law. It floats in the air.

King Solomon, the wisest of all men, answered all…of the 400 questions…

The decision to allow a Moabite woman to convert and enter the congregation may be comparable. The scriptural source for this ruling is questionable. It was established on the authority of the Oral Torah. The courts of Boaz and Samuel the Prophet ruled accordingly, and it was finally established once again by the Sanhedrin in the time of King David. Doeg and Achitophel asked four hundred questions in the attempt to nullify this ruling. Although their logic was impeccable and could not be disproved until the time of Solomon, King David's son, the courts consistently ruled against them because there was a tradition that took precedence over their logic. That, too, is a Tower Floating in the Air.

chanoch's Commentary

What is this all about? Why is this important? Let us put it in perspective.

Doeg and Achitophel hate King David. So What? This is a battle between the two Kings. Satan and HaShem. The tool of Satan is logic. The tool of HaShem is both logic and tradition/intuition. Which should one follow? In the western world with western education logic is the tool. If one can not prove something logically; if one can not measure something physically then it is not important and of no consequence. The majority rules; This means that a minority of one is meaningless in this world. This is not the Halacha and the teachings of Torah. This subject is too long to answer at this point. In brief Torah teaches majority of knowledgeable people rule.

Why were these 400 questions not answered until King Solomon? It is to teach us the meaning of hatred in the frame of reincarnation. A spark of a soul is captured by another soul. Doeg and Achitophel acuse King David of having something negative within his gilgul. This is the the spark of their soul captured by King David. This is the cause of the hatred and the study of this approach is how to handle removing hatred from the world.

The identification of the tower floating in the air has many metaphors. From an erect penis to the essence of purity to the essence of Malchut which is purity surrounded by impurity. Light surrounded by shells or Klipot.

There is much more to comment about the floating tower yet it requires a vessel to reveal the light and that takes questions.

The Sabba Enters the Place of 400 Questions

As mentioned previously, the number of difficulties and questions raised by Doeg and Achitophel, according to the Zohar, is not three but four hundred. The Holy Zohar also says that King David's son, King Solomon, the wisest of all men, answered all of them.

Furthermore, in the Zohar the Sabba of Mishpatim also asks and answers some of them, or at least one of them. In the middle of this section, it is stated explicitly that the Sabba has entered into the place of the 400 questions. Some of the text that records it will follow. (Indeed, it may be that the entire text of the Sabba in Zohar, Mishpatim, from its beginning, is really part of the four hundred questions.

See "The Riddle of the Saba". I will put a link to a series of Zohar translations and commentaries from the section of the Zohar dealing with the Parasha of Mishpatim. Right now i am not sure if we should do this as a separate class or include it at this point. What do you all think?

However, before we can translate and explain the explicit text we must first recall something that was learned previously. There is a phenomenon called "the spirit that is left within the woman" as a result of the first intimate relationship with her husband. This spirit remains within her at all times. However, what happens when her first husband dies, she remarries, and the spirit of her second husband enters within her? This is one of the four hundred questions.

chanoch's Commentary

The Halacha of the "Black Widow" comes from this idea of the conflict in the womb between these reshimot of the first husband and the second husband and also the third husband.

Say your thing, Sabba. The Holy King is here…

Come and see. How high are the awesome and mighty [things] the Holy King does. Who can speak about them? His spirit is flopping around within her womb like a snake, and it quarrels with the other spirit of the second husband that has entered…

When the second husband comes and puts his spirit into this vessel, the first spirit quarrels with this spirit that has entered, and they cannot settle down together. For this reason the woman does not settle down properly with her second husband. The first spirit knocks around within her; she always remembers him, and cries and grieves for him because his spirit is flopping around within her womb like a snake, and it quarrels with the other spirit of the second husband that has entered.

If this spirit that has entered pushes out the first one, then the first one goes its way. Sometimes the first one pushes out the second, and quarrels with it until he takes it out from the world. And that is why we have learned that a man should not marry a woman who has had two husbands die on her because the Angel of Death is strong within her. People do not realize that it is this spirit [of the first husband] that has conquered the other spirit of the second [husband], and that is why nobody should get mixed up with her…

If the spirit of the first husband is strong enough to conquer and push out the second spirit, and consequently the second husband dies as well, then it is not advisable for any third man to marry her. It is likely that what has happened to the second husband will happen to the third as well. Therefore, tradition suggests that a man should not marry a woman who has had two husbands die on her (unless special banishing meditations are performed).

However, if the second spirit that has entered overpowers and conquers the first one, then the first spirit goes out from there and goes on its way. To where does it go, and what happens to it?

O' Sabba, Sabba [he says to himself] what have you done? You thought you would say a few words and get out of this, but now you have entered a place that no one else has entered since the day that Doeg and Achitophel made those difficulties. They asked four hundred questions concerning the Tower Floating in the Air, but no one could answer any of them until King Solomon came along and clarified each one of them exactly.

Sabba, Sabba, will you reveal this supernal secret that was hidden? What have you done?

"Sabba, Sabba, you should have watched yourself in the first place, but now, Sabba, is not the time to hide out. Get your courage back! Where does the spirit that leaves [her] go?"

He began to cry…

The spirit that goes out [from her] on its way wanders through the world, and it is not known. It goes to the grave of that man [the first husband from whence it came], and from there it wanders about the world. It appears to people in dreams who see in their dreams an image like that man…

Thus it wanders in the world and constantly visits that grave until the time when the [soul-]spirits visit the graves of bodies.

The second spirit, the soul-spirit, is a part of the soul of the person who has died, in this case the first husband. The time when the spirits of the soul visit the graves of the bodies is, for example, on the day of the yahrzeit, the yearly anniversary of the day when the person died. It is customary that descendants and students visit the graves of the departed on the yahrzeit day to pray there because it is a time when their prayers can receive assistance and power from the spirits of the departed ones. At such a propitious time the spirit that was left within the woman by the first husband and has gone out from her to wander in the world meets the spirit of the soul of the first husband from whence it has come.

This spirit joins with its main spirit, which clothes itself within it.

The wandering spirit joins the main spirit of the soul that has come down to the grave. The former, the wandering spirit, becomes an exterior addendum to the latter, until the soul-spirit returns to its place.

When it (the main spirit) goes into its place, it divests itself of it (the wandering spirit), but there is a place for it among the palaces of Paradise, or just outside of them, and there [the spirit] shelters - each one according to its ways.

When the spirits visit this world, when those that have died are needed among the living, then they ensconce within these spirits.

There are times of trouble when the living need the assistance of the spirits of the deceased…

In other words, there are times of trouble when the living need the assistance of the spirits of the deceased. In such times, the spirits of the deceased are able to communicate with the world of the living through the interface of these minor spirits that have been sheltering "among the palaces of Paradise, or just outside of them".

Accordingly, it would seem that there is a happy ending to this story; the spirit drawn from the first husband that was left within the woman, which was banished as a consequence of her second marriage and made to wander through the world, has become the interface enabling communication between the spirits of the souls with the world of the living. However, the Sabba rejects this contention.

Perhaps you will say that it has been an advantage to the spirit, and this woman has benefited everyone. It is not so! If she did not marry another one, and if the first spirit had not been pushed out from before the other, then it would have had a different advantage, and it would not have had to wander in the world as it did. And it was not necessary for the living of this world that it should wander as it did here and there.

Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yossi challenge the Sabba'sposition on this issue with the following question:

"If that is the case, then the second union of this woman was not a good thing, but you said that [the rule is that] one man is pushed out by another man."

The Sabba himself taught us a rule that applies to these matters: one spirit is pushed out by another. Therefore, it is quite natural that the first spirit should be pushed out from before the second. It is not a calamity, and it should not be looked at in a negative way. Now, one of them will ask him another, stronger and more compelling question:

"And I say, maybe the second husband that married this woman is really her soul-mate, and the first one was not her real soul-mate. The second belongs to her, and when the time came the first one was pushed out from before him."

"Therefore, Sabba, pushing out the first spirit was not only natural; it was also just!" The Sabba answers:

It is certainly that way! The first spirit that was in this woman is never pushed out unless the second is her soul-mate. And in all the cases where the second is pushed out from before the first ones, it is the first ones that are the soul-mates and not the others. That is why they cannot abide together, and the second spirit is pushed out from before the first one.

Consequently, it is said about someone who marries a widow that he doesn't know his soul [i.e. he doesn't know what he is doing] "Because the net is spread for no reason…" (Proverbs 1:17). He does not know if she is his soul mate or not.

chanoch's Commentary

We do have other tools today to know if someone is a Cosmic Soul Mate to a particular women. Although this wisdom is never 100% certain to the fifth sign of soul mates as taught by the ARIzal.

The Sabba now introduces an entirely new possibility that coincides with his own preference in these matters:

One Husband, No More

There is a widow who does not remarry. Even if her soul-mate comes along, but she does not want to remarry, G-d does not coerce her with force. He prepares another woman for the man, and He does not enter into harsh judgment with this one in this world, even if she never has any children, because a woman is not commanded "Be fruitful and multiply..." (Gen. 1:22), as is known.

Thus, even if her first husband who has died was not her soul mate, and the second, potential husband is her soul mate, the Sabba nevertheless prefers that the woman refrain from marrying.


There is one major instance where the Sabba will agree that a woman should remarry after the death of her first husband, and the Torah just about obligates it as well. It is the case of "yibum" (levirate marriage), where the first husband has died without leaving any progeny in the world. The brother of the deceased first husband (the woman's brother-in-law) is designated by the Torah to marry the widow. This act of yibum will liberate the spirit that was left within her by the first intimate relationship with her first husband and build living progeny in the name of the deceased.

Now, the foundations of the Davidic dynasty are the yibum of Tamar by Judah and the yibum of Ruth by Boaz. Both these relationships were questionable and susceptible to the challenges of Doeg and Achitophel. They are the Tower Floating in the Air.

Judah was not the brother-in-law of Tamar, but her father-in-law. Ruth was a Moabite woman, and her legitimate entry into the congregation was questionable, let alone that she should become the mother of the royal house. Furthermore, even if her marriage to Machlon, the son of Elimelech, was legitimate, Boaz was not his brother but his father's cousin. What kind of yibum is that?

The spirit that was left within the woman by her first husband may well have been flopping around within Tamar and Ruth, but did these unorthodox types of yibum free those spirits and build them up? Could these relationships build the foundations of the genealogy of the kings of Israel and Messiah? Around these issues Doeg and Achitophel ask four hundred confounding questions, such as what happens to the spirit of the first husband. These are the four hundred questions of Doeg and Achitofel on the Tower Floating in the Air.

The discussion of the points touched upon here goes on and on in the inimitable way of the Zohar and the Sabba. Obviously, the Sabba was quite reluctant to reveal these things. For us it is not so much of a problem since we do not understand too much of the Zohar anyway, but now the Holy Ari comes and tells us that he too will be revealing one of the four hundred questions!

Chapter Nine is one of the four hundred questions that Doeg and Achitophel asked concerning "the Tower Floating in the Air." Like the Sabba, the subject of Chapter Nine will be illicit sexual relationships (in particular, that of homosexuality), how they effect gilgulim, and how the sparks that fell into the kelipot because of the sin are ultimately redeemed.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

I have decided to add the section of the Zohar mentioned above here before we enter chapter 9.

Zohar Saba of Mishpatim Section 4

The Riddle of the Saba Part 4

Several of the ideas mentioned above are expressed in the following passages from the Zohar. The following selections are from Zohar vol. II 94a-99b.The protagonist is an old man (Saba), ostensibly a donkey-driver, who meets Rabbi Yose, one of the sages of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's circle, on his travels. The donkey driver poses several questions to Rabbi Yose, who fails to appreciate their true significance. However, his wiser colleague, Rabbi Chiya, senses that there is more to the questions than meets the eye, and after probing the matter, they realize that the old man is in fact teaching them some of the deepest secrets of gilgul…Along the way, the Zohar also deals with such questions as, "Why do some people never marry?", "What happens to the soul of a person who dies without having children?", "Why do innocent children die young?"

One night, Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yose arrived simultaneously in Migdal Tzur. They both planned to lodge the night there and were delighted to see each other.

Rabbi Yose said, "You don't know how happy I am to behold the countenance of the Shechina!"

He was referring to Rabbi Chiya whom he met there unexpectedly. Rabbi Yose referred to Rabbi Chiya as "the countenance of the Shechina" because the Shechina rested upon him constantly. (Damesek Eliezer. Cf. Zohar II, 38a)

For while I was traveling, I was bothered by an old man, a donkey-driver, who plied me with questions the entire way! The first question he asked me was, "What is the snake that flies through the air and goes about all alone, with an ant resting between its teeth?" He began with union and ended with separation!

As explained in Or Hachamah the meaning behind this question is as follows: What is the lot of a person who did not fulfill the mitzvah "to be fruitful and multiply," and did not even marry so that he might have children? When his soul ascends on High, it flutters about in the air ("flies through the air") and cannot settle. It does not find a partner; it "goes about alone" and unproductive, like a snake in this world. For all animals go about in pairs, other than the snake, which travels by itself. (See Bereishit Rabba chap. 98, par. 11)When this soul descends again into a body, it does not find a mate, and remains alone. 'With an ant resting between its teeth.''Ant' refers to the soul-mate of that man - she is lost to him now because he had refused to marry her and fulfill the mitzvah of having children. While he undergoes gilgul the "ant"1 - his designated wife - 'rests between his teeth,' for he constantly thinks about her, grinding his teeth in anger at himself for not having married her when he had the opportunity. She, however, finds solace in the other man she marries. Thus 'he began with union and ended with separation' - before his soul descended into a body for the first time, his soul-mate was announced - 'he began with union,' of his soul and that of his designated soul-mate. This time, before his soul descended for a second time, no announcement was made - 'he ended with separation,' as half a person, since he descended without his soul-mate. (See BamidbarRabba 3:4)

The old donkey-driver's second question:

"And what is the eagle that makes her nest in a tree that never was? Her children were stolen away but not as created beings, for they were created in a place where there is no creation. When they ascend they descend, and when they descend they ascend. Two are one, and one is three."

Behind this question lies the mystical interpretation of the commandment of yibum, the levirate marriage. If a man dies without having any children, then his brother (called the yavam) is obligated by Torah to marry this deceased brother's widow (theyevama).He perpetuates, thereby, the name of his deceased brother (see Deut. 25:5ff.). The eagle here alludes to the yevama who, after the death of her husband, must "make her nest" (marry) in "a tree that never was" - a man (compared to a tree in Deut. 20:19) who was not intended for her (i.e. her yavam). [In fact, had the woman's husband divorced her, she would be forbidden to any of his brothers during his lifetime.] "Her children were stolen away" refers to the children she could theoretically have had with her first husband who died, and whose soul now enters the child she will have with the yavam, as will be explained below.

But the children she could have borne are not created beings that were stolen from her, having never actually been born ("but not as created beings for they were created in a place where there is no creation." Or HaChamah) "When they ascend" - when the souls of people who die without leaving children ascend from the bodies they occupied (Zohar Harakiah); alternatively, when the yavamand the yevama (the brother and former wife) ascend to become the parents of the deceased (when he is reincarnated as their child), then the soul of the deceased descends into their child. By fulfilling the commandment of yibum and allowing the deceased's soul to descend into a body ("when they descend") in order to perpetuate his name, the yavam and yevama are themselves raised to a higher spiritual level ("they ascend"). Thus, "two are one" - the deceased and the newborn are one soul; "and one is three" - the newborn is endowed with three souls: one from the deceased, another from the yavam and a third from the Holy One Blessed Be He (Or Hachamah; Mikdash Melech)

The Arizal explains that there is a distinct advantage in yibum over regular gilgul. Namely, a child born to a yavam and yevamacan acquire all three levels of soul - Nefesh, Ruach andNeshama in a single lifetime.

The old donkey-driver's third question:

"Who is the beautiful maiden without eyes, whose body is concealed and revealed, who comes out in the morning and disappears during the day, who is adorned with ornaments that never were?"

This refers to a pure and unsullied Neshama (the maiden) that has merited to ascend to Gan Eden as a result of its good deeds (and therefore it is called "beautiful"). "Without eyes" - theNeshama cannot be seen. However, the Neshama is clothed in the lower level of Ruach, which is called its "body" when compared with the Neshama. This level of Ruach is "concealed" (it is not a physical body) and revealed (compared with the even more concealed Neshama it is regarded as revealed). "It comes out in the morning" because after midnight, towards morning, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, descends with all the souls of tzadikimfrom the upper aspect of Gan Eden.

[Note:The Zohar explains elsewhere that there are in general two levels of Gan Eden - Gan Eden haElyon (the higher Garden of Eden) and Gan Eden haTachton (the lower Garden of Eden). The difference between them is that the aspect of G-dliness revealed in Gan Eden haTachton is from the supernal midot, whereas the aspect of G-dliness revealed in Gan Eden haElyonis from the supernal mochin, a far greater illumination. Furthermore, the souls in Gan Eden haTachton experience the revelation of G-dliness as the emotional revelation of consummate love and awe, whereas the souls in Gan Eden haElyon experience the revelation of G-dliness as profound and inspirational insight into Divine Truth.]

It is then that the neshamot from the upper aspect of Gan Edenclothe themselves in their "bodies" (i.e., Ruach, which is called its "body" as mentioned above). But when day breaks, the Holy One returns to the upper aspect of Gan Eden and the neshamot go with Him. Accordingly as is said in Or HaChamah, the Neshama"disappears during the day." The Neshama "is adorned with ornaments that never were" - with the souls of tzadikim, some of whom are new souls that have never descended into a physical body, thus "they never were." (Damesek Eliezer)

Although it is not clear that the Arizal is talking about this paragraph of the Zohar,the Arizal explains in Sha'ar HaGilgulim, introduction 3, that after a person has rectified his level of Nefesh, he normally must die and be reincarnated in order to begin rectifying his Ruach. However, occasionally, if a person has the correct intentions when he goes to sleep at night, as he places his soul in the hands of G-d (as in the liturgy of the BedtimeShema: "in Your hands I deposit my soul") that his Nefesh will remain above and only his Ruach will descend when he awakes in the morning. Thus, it is as if he comes into another gilgul in a different body. Once he has perfected the level of Ruach, then theNefesh can return to the body it was enclothed in originally, so that the Ruach will become clothed in the Nefesh. Subsequently, if he has perfected his Ruach as well, the same process may be repeated.

His Nefesh and Ruach ascend while he is asleep and remain above. When he wakes up in the morning, only theNeshama will descend. If he succeeds in rectifying the Neshamaas well, then the Ruach and Nefesh will descend into the same body. The Nefesh will become the vehicle for his Ruach, and hisRuach for the Neshama, and he will no longer be required to return in gilgul.

Rabbi Yose continues to tell Rabbi Chiya about the strange old man he had met:

All these questions he asked me on the way, and it distressed me. But now I can relax. Had we been together, we would have occupied ourselves with Torah discussions, instead of other nonsensical matters!"

Rabbi Chiya asked,"This old man… Do you know anything about him?" He replied, "This I know: his chatter is worthless, for had he known anything he would have begun discussing Torah, and the journey would not have been wasted!"

Rabbi Chiya said, "Is the donkey-driver here? Sometimes those apparently empty-headed fellows can turn out to be a golden bell." "Here he is, preparing food for his donkey." They called him over and he came before them. He said to them, "Now two are three and three are as one!"

The two of them, Rabbi Yose and the donkey-driver, had now become a group of three - together with Rabbi Chiya. And all three were united ("as one") in their common quest to learn Torah. (Zohar HaRaKiah)

But Rabbi Yose [still did not grasp the true nature of the old man's comments, and he] said to Rabbi Chiya, "Didn't I tell you that all of his words are meaningless and idle chatter?"

The old man sat down before them and said, "Rabbis! Only recently I became a donkey-driver. I was not always a donkey-driver. But I have one young son whom I send to school. I want him to occupy himself with Torah, and so when I meet a rabbi on my travels, I try to act as his donkey-driver. Today I thought I would hear some novel Torah insights, but I heard nothing!"

The assumption is that it was he who tried to learn Torah from the rabbi. However, as we will see shortly, the donkey driver intended to teach the rabbi secrets of the Torah!

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (Kehillat Yaakov; Mikdash Melech) comments on the above piece: Know that the souls of other tzadikim descend from that world [higher world] to reveal secrets of the Torah to the righteous and very pious. This is the esoteric explanation of theMishna: "All those who occupy themselves with Torah for its own sake are worthy of many things…. They reveal the secrets of the Torah to him…" (Ethics of the Fathers 6:1). Understand that it does not state, "the secrets of Torah are revealed to him," but rather, "they reveal [the secrets of the Torah] to him" - via the souls of othertzadikim. Now the manner in which the tzadik's soul is revealed to a person in order to divulge to him Torah secrets, is this: There is no Neshama that does not have a levush (garment) called its cloak or its rabbinical attire [in the case of a scholar]. This garment is woven from mitzvot [that a person fulfills]. Just as the angels who appeared to Abraham came clothed in a body, so too the souls of tzadikim clothe themselves in a rabbinical garment and appear to a person in order to teach him secrets of the Torah.

[Depending on the level the recipient has reached, the tzadik'sNeshama from Beriya, or his Ruach from Yetzira, or his Nefeshfrom Asiya, will reveal the secrets of Torah to the person who comes from his soul-root].

When only the level of Nefesh of the tzadik becomes clothed [in a garment], then it is revealed as a donkey-driver…. Know, however, that it is impossible for the soul of any tzadik to clothe itself in that rabbinical garment unless a spark of Moses, our master, clothes itself in his soul.

Rabbi Yose said, "Of all the things I heard you say, only one of them surprised me. You either said it out of foolishness or because you did not know what you were talking about." "And what was that?" asked the old man. "About the beautiful maiden, etc." The old man began, "The Lord is with me, I do not fear - what can man do to me? I am not afraid to reveal the secrets of the Torah!(Zohar HaRakiah; Mikdash Melech) The Lord is with me, to help me… It is better to rely on the Lord…" (Psalms 118:6-8). How good and pleasant, cherished and lofty are the words of Torah. The four expressions used here correspond to the four levels of Torah interpretation, called "PaRDeS".2 How shall I proclaim them in front of Rabbis, when I have not heard a single word of Torah from their mouths?

[Since Rabbi Yose assumed that the donkey-driver was simply a foolish old man, he reviewed his studies to himself, in silence.]

As a result, I am not able to judge whether they are indeed worthy of learning secrets of the Torah. Alternatively, the old man said this out of humility. Since the verse states, "do not stand in the place of great men" (Proverbs 25:6) he was reluctant to speak at all, until the rabbis had spoken first. However, since they had not spoken, and he was about to utter words of Torah, he had nothing to be ashamed of: As far as I am concerned, I must say that I am not ashamed to say words of Torah before all (Rabbi Chaim Vital in Zohar HaRakiah; Mikdash Melech).

From this point on, the attitude of Rabbi Yose changes, as he listens to the words of the old man who begins to reveal secrets of the Torah.

[Translation and commentary by Moshe Miller]

Reincarnation Discrimination

Chapter Nine, Section 1

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

Men must reincarnate to clear their sins because they study Torah and cannot go to Gehinom, whereas women are not thus protected by the study of Torah and can purify their sins in Gehinom.

chanoch's Commentary

In our generation this may not apply to men and women in the same way. It may apply to people who study Torah and people who do not study Torah. Also in the Talmud it says that women do not have the mind set to study Torah at the level of Talmud. Yet women are studying this level of Torah. It is my opinion that what represents a male half and a female half of a soul changes from generation to generation.

Gilgulim really only apply to men and not to women. This is the esoteric meaning of the verse, "A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains stationary forever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4). "A generation goes and a generation comes…" refers to men who reincarnate. However, women are referred to as "earth"; they are forever stationary. [In other words] they do not return in gilgul.

chanoch's Commentary

In our generation the verse is actually applied differently. A better translation to understand my comment above is " A generation goes out and a generation comes and the malchut of the universe stands forever. There is a certain concept of malchut that is universal and it does not change while the generation can be modified as to where the male and female is split.

Throughout Jewish literature in general, and Kabbala in particular, the earth is considered an aspect and personification of the feminine. (See, for example, Shaarei Ora, 1, by Rabbi Yosef Gikatlia.) Malchut is the preeminent female aspect of the sefirot, and one of her attributes is "earth". Furthermore, the entire section in the Torah concerning illicit sexual relationships is associated with the "earth", its settlement, and exile from it (G-d forbid). For example, it is written, "And you shall guard all My statutes and all My laws, and the Land that I brought you there to settle it shall not spit (actually vomit) you out" (Lev. 20:22). The earth…takes the place of the widow who is not marrying the brother-in-law…

Similarly, if the brother-in-law does not perform the mitzvah of yibum, then he and his brother's widow perform the mitzvah of chalitza; in chalitza, the "earth" plays a prominent role. He stamps his foot upon the ground, she throws his shoe upon the ground, and finally she spits upon the ground. And the Zohar explains that the earth here takes the place of the widow who is not marrying the brother-in-law to allow the soul of the deceased to come back in gilgul through her.

The Ari has explained the indication from the verse that informs us that men reincarnate and not women. Now, he will give a reason for it, and it is the first reason for this distinction that he is providing here (according to the text of Sefer Hagilgulim and Bnei Aharon).

The reason is that men are commanded with the mitzvah to get involved with the study of Torah. [Therefore] they cannot enter Gehinom because the fire of Gehinom cannot affect them, as it says regarding Elisha son of Abuya. He was not judged because he learned Torah, but they did not give him the World-to-Come either, since he had sinned.

This is taught in Talmud Chagiga 15b, and we have already learned about it in Chapter 4:7. We learned there that the Torah protects against the fires of Gehinom. Therefore, those that learn Torah must reincarnate in order to get purified of their sins. Now we learn, for the same reason, only men reincarnate and not women.

Thus, they [men] must reincarnate to erase their sins in place of Gehinom. Women, on the other hand, who are not [commanded to be] involved with Torah, can enter Gehinom to erase their sins, and they do not need to reincarnate.

The link below is to the next handout in this series.

  • Advanced Reincarnation Class 27 - Handout No 16 - Chapter 9 Section 1 to ?