The Arizal

Restore the Jewish Glory – About the Arizal

On the occasion of the yartzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Issac Luria, the Arizal, I want to talk about him because he was such an incredible human being. These are some things everybody needs to know, to understand what it’s possible for a human being to become in this world:

  • The Ari was mean to be a spark of a part of the reincarnation of Moses, of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and possibly Moshiach ben Yosef (of the two Messianic presences, ben David and ben Yosef.)
  • The Ari had the ability to look at another person with x-ray eyes, so to speak, and to see into their soul. He could look at a person and understand everything about them, just by looking at them. By sensing their aroma, he knew their essence. He could look at their forehead and understand their sins, and look at their eyes and see their soul, and bring it out to speak to it.
  • The Ari could go to a graveyard and look at the souls of the people buried there. He was able to select a name from the Kabbalistic books he studied and speak a name from among the Sages, and that person would appear before him and answer whatever the Ari asked.
  • The Ari could look at birds and understand their language, and look at trees and understand their language. He certainly was able to understand the language of Torah and, in fact, was a genius at understanding all of Torah.
  • The Ari could look beyond the surface of a person and see what’s underneath, which may reveal that another soul is also inhabiting that person’s body. Not only in an evil, scary way, but also in a holy way. A person from a previous generation came to help another person along in this life, as a mitzvah. He could look at a student and stand up for them, because he understood that, as a result of their actions, they had the assistance of a Sage from 2000 years ago.
  • The Ari was able to see, in a learning session during the day, where all the doubts came from. He would seek out these doubts, like a warrior in battle would seek out the enemy. Whenever he found a doubt, something that was unclear in the world of Torah exploration which is mean to be sort of a grey area, meaning not black and white, the Ari would seek out the doubt to destroy it. And that’s how he became a person of incredible clarity. Whatever he said, he said with absolute authority, unlike some of his students who had a harder time, and weren’t always clear about what he said, how much he said and what he meant.
  • The Ari could draw down any soul from any time period, past or present, and bring it into the room.
  • The Ari went up and visited the upper yeshivas when he went to sleep each night. He was escorted by angels to protect him on the way into Heaven, and he participated in the yeshivas of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Moses and any other Sages of his choice. He was welcomed with open arms.
  • The Ari was able to come back and report what he learned. The accumulated wisdom, his entire body of knowledge communicated by the transcribers of his wisdom was collected from his age of 36 to 38. And that’s what he gave to the world, and it encompasses a body of knowledge which is huge. Every book of Torah you can find includes something from the Ari.
  • The Ari was able to share just a fraction of all he actually knew, which became apparent when one of his students snuck into his room while the Ari was napping on a Shabbat afternoon, and he saw the Ari’s lips moving very fast. Afterwards, he was told that during the minute or two he saw the Ari moving his lips there was conveyed so much information through him that it would take 80 years to share with others.
  • The Ari was simply a man of increbility, in every sense of the word… a man who knew the root soul of every person, where they were on their path, what they were supposed to be doing in the present and also in the future, and what they need to fix up in their lives.
  • The Ari could take a soul out of a person and interview it, and find out where it’s going and where it needs to go.
  • The Ari was incredibly humble. He never killed any living thing, although he could have done so at any moment.
  • The Ari was speaking with angels at all times. And he understood the language of the body, physical features and facial features, their eyes, nose, mouth, ears and lines on their face. Doing so he could read the person’s reincarnations throughout their past lives.
  • The Ari revealed to us methods and systems of Kabbalistic learning which answer the deepest questions ever asked by humans, all the paradoxes included. His account of the constriction of G-d’s presence and revelation in Creation, and his system of Sephirot are good examples. The Ari said he didn’t get anything of his own except what he gleaned from the Zohar of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and which he put into a system for others to understand.
  • The Ari answered some of the biggest dilemmas regarding reincarnation, why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people… he understood all that.

Those are just a few points outlining a truly amazing person, who emanated this access to wisdom every single minute of his life. He was a shining example of the extraordinary. From the Ari, we see the possibility of what a human can do and can be. He came here to fix the world, and teach through his main student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, who was prepared to be the Moshiach, but it was not the time in his generation as they were not worthy, so it didn’t happen yet.

We still have more work to do, but in the Arizal we can see what a human being can actually become.

The Souls Inside Of Us Accompanying Us

Lights

Continuing with the theme of reincarnation basics, I’d like to talk about the fact that we are all born with the main host, meaning who we really are. But we also have, throughout our lives, anywhere from 1 to 4 guests.

These are people who experience what we experience, and they are usually “soul family” people who are connected with us in the map of souls. They have a like for us, an affinity for us. They are rooting for us and we are rooting for them. They are here, as are we all, to fix up something from a previous lifetime.

My main experience is “me,” but if I develop the sensitivity to do so, I can begin to experience these other personalities, not in a schizophrenic or multi-personality type of way, but in a natural way. You might think of it as the different voices within each of us, reacting and awakening in different ways.

All these various personalities will find their main body to inhabit at the time of the resurrection of all the souls into their bodies, and it will be like a grand old reunion in those days. Seeing yourself in so many generations and nuances is part of the experience.

Another experience is this – the greater the person, the more people that are outside of him or her, those people are actually inside of him or her. And the great person has an affinity for all those people. The greatest example of all is Moshe, Moses, who had everybody inside of him. That is why he was able to counsel and get to the bottom of the Daas, the knowings of each person, and help them know what to do.

Each of us, on our different levels, quantitatively and qualitatively, take people inside us, and that’s how we relate to other people.

The second, related topic here is “ibur.” These are short-term guests, as opposed to a life-long guest within us, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to many years in duration. These people come in a helpful way, to inhabit us, because they either need the tikkun, a mitzvah for themselves, or they are present to help us, because we’re doing something extraordinary. They are present to give us an extra boost of expanded consciousness that comes along with their inhabitance of us.

This is not as creepy or spooky as a dybbuk, or an exorcist-type story, but it’s a natural thing going on inside us. We’re either helping them or they’re helping us.

For example, there was a time when divorce was very rare. Now that is not the case, but in the past there were people who needed to fulfill all the mitzvoth in the Torah, and they might jump in right at the time someone is experiencing divorce. That person will feel a very elevated awakening inside, because there are other souls coming on board, so to speak, in the merit of that particular mitzvah.

These others don’t suffer with us if they are here to help us, but if we’re helping them, then they do feel it, meaning our suffering is their suffering. Our refinement is their refinement.

On Shabbat we have what’s called an “extra soul.” The Arizal teaches us that this is literally another human being from the world of souls, come to give us extra aliveness and pleasure, an expanded consciousness. And they leave us when Shabbat is over, and we feel the loss. It can be sort of a harsh feeling.

And it’s similar when we step up to help many people in a public way. We will get many people from the ibur system to help us get across what we need to communicate to them. And we can become aware of them by developing a sensitivity, the same way as we can become sensitive to other people within us throughout our lifetime. We can cultivate an awareness of getting extra help, as if something from beyond us has come to help us.

And, G-d forbid, the opposite is also true. If we are doing something really bad, it could be that some bad souls are coming to mess us up. It works both ways.

The third topic here is what I call the smoothness factor. The basic idea is this – we all come into this world with unfinished business. We all come reincarnated. We are coming, not to fix up the same things we faced last lifetime, but to fix what remains to be fixed. So, we can heal in every feeling and act and word and emotion and thought and interaction and relationship we have. We can feel if something we’re doing is unfixed, and needs to be fixed.

It may be something that’s not smooth for us, and we have to work especially hard at it, we’re driven to work hard at it. Therefore, even if we get knocked down we’re driven to get back up and fix it up.

Or, it could be the other way around. It may be something we’ve already fixed up previously, and we are in our element, so to speak, then we may have the feeling that everything is going smoothly because we already took care of that thing.

Both of these situations are useful, the hard stuff and the smooth, easy experiences. Both exist to advance us in our tikkun, which will ultimately bring us to our culmination in the end of days.

The same is true of relationships. People come into our lives, as close or as distant relationships, to help facilitate our tikkun, our perfection process. We need to pay attention to that perspective, meaning that they are here from a previous time to help take the sting out of bad feelings we may have about other people. They are sent by G-d to help us go through what we need to go through.

Finally, there’s the Sephirot factor. There’s a Sehirotic soul map and we are connected to people closest to us by a particular Sephira, and we will heal in affinity with people of the same Sephira, too. This is true regarding soulmating, friendships and family relationships, among others.

I’m not going to get into all the various Sephirot because that’s a separate discussion for another day, but the basic idea is this – we are here to maximize our Sephirotic profile and to align it as well.

Kabbalah 101: Gilgulei Yisrael (Reincarnation)

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I want to get started talking about some of the basics of Kabbalah, sort of a Kabbalah 101, if you will.

And I figure that a good way to start is discussing the topic of reincarnation of the soul. I’m drawing from a booklet of notes of my work with R. Dardik on Gilgulei Yisrael. He took notes the whole time we were working together, and created a booklet on questions and answers on the topic.

You could think of it as Reincarnation Made Simple. So, let’s get started…

One of the first, fundamental questions is about the ego, going back to Adam. Adam was a container of all souls, basically, and before the original sin, according to the Arizal and others, there were only good souls within him.

The fallout or result of his sin, was a mixture of souls, some of which were not so good. Our task now, and previously, throughout history, is to unmesh or unmix the bad ones from the good ones.

A bad soul is a person who is not yet rectified, very distant from G-d, but in some cases redeemable unless the level is so bad, as defined by the Tanya for example. Unredeemable spirituality is comprised of those things actually forbidden to us. And that’s why they are forbidden, because they are unredeemable.

Potentially redeemable, however, are the notoriously evil rulers and other figures we’ve faced throughout history. This would include Pharoah, Lavan, Esav, all of whom, somewhere along the line in their reincarnations, made the wrong choices and headed down a very, very hard path. Part of their redeemability involves the part each of them played in Jewish history.

I’ll leave it at that regarding bad souls mixed-in with Adam.

Another point I’d like to make here is the fact that we are all old souls. In contemporary culture you have this general conception that uses the phrase, “old soul” to describe a higher, more evolved human being. But, according to the Arizal, we’ve all been here before and we’re back because we have unfinished business, and we have to go through life to finish up our business here.  Hopefully, we resonate with what we need to fix up, and then fix it up.

Unlike this popular concept, we are all, in fact, old souls. Maybe there’s one every so often, across many generations, that’s actually a new soul, meaning one that’s never been here before. And the Arizal is a good example, and also the Baal Shem Tov. New souls don’t have unfinished business to go through, and they can get rectified very quickly. So, what popular culture teaches about old souls is an entirely fallacious idea.

It’s similar to another concept I even hesitate to bring up, and will deal with fully another time. It’s the concept of Rest In Peace – RIP. In reality, there’s not a lot of rest for people immediately after they pass away, no matter who they are.  Especially if they haven’t been too good.  Rest In Peace is simply a mistaken notion. So for now, I’ll just say RIP to that whole concept.

The third fundamental soul concept is another deep one, and it is about the souls of converts to Judaism. Up until the last couple generations the usual definition of a convert involved a person who is not Jewish in their root soul, but have a natural drive to become Jewish. That natural drive is called The Soul Of The Convert, or the Nefesh Gair. It’s a person who is driven to become Jewish, even though they were not born Jewish.

In our generation however, according to some very astute Kabbalists, things are different. Of the many souls who want to convert there’s a good chance they are Jewish at their roots, and in previous incarnations they were Jewish. And for various reasons, in this lifetime they were born as non-Jews. That’s one important idea about converts.

Another is that there will be a pre-Messianic blitz of souls who want to convert. They want to join the Jewish people, which, it should be noted, will not be possible once Moshiach comes. Everyone will see the wisdom of being Jewish then, and we won’t be able to trust their motives for conversion at that point.

An authentic convert makes the decision based on their inner drive, not because things will go better for them when Moshiach comes.  In fact, we understand that a converted Jew is deserving of even more tender loving care, and regard and compassion than a born Jew, because it was a choice.

We are all converts at the root level, but converts are Jews by choice, similar to but not the same as a baal teshuva. The Jew by choice is coming for the most altruistic reasons and we need to respect that. It can be a bit embarrassing to us, as regards our wrong choices, compared to a Jew by choice.

Finally, here’s one more reincarnation soul fundamental principle – use of Torah to perfect your soul. It’s very appropriate now, at the time of receiving of Torah, which is Shavuot,

There are there or four different versions about how Torah and mitzvoth come to fix up different parts of our souls, and all but the last are attributed to the Arizal. The first version is by performing actions, doing mitzvoth, we can fix up our Nefesh, our lowest level of soul. And by learning the Oral Torah we can fix up our Ruach, our second level of soul. And by learning Kabbalah we can perfect our Neshama, the third level of soul.

The second version is this – by performing positive mitzvoth, even without the proper intention, we fix the Nefesh. By doing Torah without the proper altruistic intention we fix up the Ruach, and by doing mitzvoth or Torah with the proper intention we fix up our Neshama.

The third version says that by doing mitzvoth we fix up the Nefesh. By doing the revealed Torah altruistically we fix up our Ruach, and by doing Kabbalah we fix up our Neshama.

The hardest part to fix is our Nefesh, because it’s closest to the evil inclination and it’s farthest from G-d, in the lowest world. The Baal Shem Tov, whose yartzeit is just after Shavuos, teaches us that we can gauge the three levels of soul. Our Nefesh is connected with our possessions, and if we are good and altruistic and straight with our possessions we can fix up our Nefesh.

The Ruach is connected with our spouses and the people in our lives, and the Neshama is connected with the level of thought.

That’s a little run-down on the way Torah and life itself serve to promote and fix-up these different levels of our souls.

 

The Arizal On The Root Souls of Our Leaders: King David

KingDavid

This is the seventh and the last post in this series of soul information of the seven Patriarchs or shepherds of the nation of Israel.

This one is about King David, the seventh of the seven Patriarchs, representing the Sephira of Malchut. Being the carrier, or merkavah of the Malchut in the world he was the one who had nothing of his own, but only had what he received from those who went before him, and from above.

A Malchut is a complete receiver, and King David was a complete receiver, receiving everything. This describes who he was, consistent with a verse in Chronicles that gives this message, To you, Hashem, to you is the greatness, and the Gevurah and the Tiferet and the Netzach and the Hod, etc.

In other words, as Malchut, David received all the other Sephirot, all together. And that’s how he perceived G-d, with the spectacle of all the other Sephirot together, while he was the lowest and also the highest at the same time, the most expansive receiver of G-d. All this contributed to King David being the paradigm of Moshiach, or Messiah.

It was his complete receptivity that led to King David being called, “a friend to G-d.” That’s a quote from the Bible as well. He was a friend to G-d because he was so receptive of G-d.

At birth, David was meant to be stillborn, but the other Patriarchs, including Adam, dedicated years of their lives to his life, so that he could live his whole seventy years. Because he was given life, instead of passing away in the womb, he had to be careful with anything to do with death.

We know from our sages that sleep is 1/60th of death, so David was extremely careful about not sleeping, as much as humanly possible. He never slept more than 60 winks, as they say. And that’s why he was the one awake every night at midnight, and writing his incredible psalms of the Holy Spirit, and singing them, and learning Torah.

King David was an exception, as far as souls are concerned, and it was testified by Abigail, one of David’s wives, that he would not have to reincarnate again. He was able to fix it all up in one lifetime, which was truly awesome, coming straight from the other side made him more likely to be a serial killer than to be a Messiah.

It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine how he could do it all in one lifetime. David went from zero to 120 in one lifetime. And it was said, as one song puts it, “David of Israel, he lived forever.” There is a mystical understanding that King David lives forever; he never dies. He died physically, but there is something about his essence that does not die.

King David came from the Messianic line, going back to Ruth and Boaz and other characters in Tanach who, in their lifetime, experienced not only every good thing, but also every depravity. This was a G-dly, intentional providence, because Messiah will stand up in his time and say, “I’ve been there and done that. You have nothing to hide from me. I came here to fix up the world, and there’s nobody outside of my scope, of what I’ve experienced in life.”

King David was a warrior, and that precluded him from building the first Holy Temple, because of his activities in battle. Building of the Holy Temple was a task given to his chosen son, King Soloman. All the wars in which David fought throughout his lifetime were, on a spiritual level, to ride our people of the scourge of the Sitra Achra, the other side. And since David came from this other side before incarnating in his life as King David, he came with some questionable personality traits. If you’d take a profile on him you might see he was right up there with some of the greatest criminals of all time. But he worked on himself so much and so hard that he completed himself. It’s also attributed to his redheadedness, because red is the trait of Gevurot, the harshness of reality.

But he was also called the Man of Beautiful Eyes, which was his connection to Malchut, but also to Yesod, the second to last Sephira, which is Beauty. That is one aspect of King David’s beautiful eyes.

He was connected at all times, especially at the end of his days, to Torah. As long as a person is connected to Torah, death cannot snatch him away. So, King David sort of cheated the Angel of Death until it made some kind of ruckus outside, and David became distracted and was snatched away from this life.

David was a reincarnation of Adam, the first man. His main wife, of all his many wives, was Batsheva. Prior to her marriage to King David she was married to one of the heads of the army, Uriah. We’re taught that Batsheva was the reincarnation of Eve, Adam’s wife, and Uriah was the reincarnation of the snake in the garden. So, the whole story is sort of a reenactment in David’s lifetime.

He sent the snake out to be killed in war, in a kosher way, although he did do teshuva for that his whole life, and he also took back his rightful soulmate, Batsheva, who gave birth to King Soloman.

King David is called the Sweet Singer of Israel. The power of Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit is planted into his psalms. They are the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts, ever since David wrote them down. Eighty percent of all our prayers are his words, and we find ourselves using them whenever we are in need, because his words become the heart song of our words. So, he was the Heart Singer of Israel as well.

The Arizal On The Root Souls of Our Leaders: Joseph

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The next in our series of patriarchs is Joseph, and it is also based on Kabbalah and the Arizal.

Joseph had a unique relationship with his father, Jacob, and he was considered to be the “main offspring” of his father’s. There are many parallels between their lives, in the particular difficulties they faced and the way they overcame their difficulties.

Jacob learned many secrets of Torah in the academy of Shem and Eiver for 14 years. It’s said he never slept during those years of study, but that all the secrets he learned he also shared with Joseph.

Both Jacob and Joseph represent the central column of the Tree of Life, the Sefirotic structure. Jacob is the central column of Tiferet, and Joseph is the central column of Yesod. The central column is an actualization or a bridge of the right and left columns, the culmination or birth place of the right and left columns. It’s an important, all-encompassing type of Sefira.   So this is another relationship Jacob had with Joseph.

Joseph was considered to be a Tzadik. He was the paradigm of a “righteous person.” His Sefira represents the male organ, and its biological and psychological characteristics as a representation of the DNA of the entire person and the entire beauty of the entire person. This is especially true if the activating of the principle within the sexual activity is done in a holy way, as it was done by Joseph.

Because of his position he was able to convey beauty. He was a beautiful man, as told in many stories of women chasing him around, the most famous of whom was the wife of Potifar.  She chased him to get him to sleep with her, and Joseph was almost seduced by her. At the last moment Joseph saw an image of his father, Jacob, and he ran away from her.

During the act of running away, it is said there were 10 drops of semen issued from his fingernails, which later became 10 leaders of the Jewish people during the Tananic period. These were the 10 martyrs who were killed for teaching Torah during Roman times. The slightest influence from Joseph carried waves of influence over the years and generations.

The fact that Joseph was able to hold himself back at a crucial time is evidence of his righteousness, and distinguishes him as having the wisdom of knowing when to express his male sexuality and when to withhold expression of it, in many ways.

Having physical beauty and being chased by many women, and being a very fruitful man as regards the seat of reproduction, Joseph was also fruitful in a monetary way. He fed the world, basically. When the world was experiencing famine, people came to him from other parts of the world because he was second only to Pharoah in Egypt, trusted with great authority. Joseph advised Pharoah and interpreted dreams for him, also representing fruitfulness.

Joseph was modest and held back at the right times, showing he had power over the “evil eye,” so to speak. And he was protected from those who lusted after him or coveted him.  His power is something that characterizes anyone who goes according to the ways of Joseph.

He was very personable and collaborative person as well. He took the qualities of his forefathers and expressed them in the world, even though he had the well-known fallout with his brothers. They thought he was the least desirable offspring of his father Jacob, just as Abraham had an Ishmael and Issac had an Esav his brothers thought Yosef was the least of their father’s sons, and not even part of the lineage of the chosen people.

Of course they were wrong about that. Joseph took them through the steps to show them the error of their beliefs, and in the end they came to make peace with him.

Ultimately, there was a rift between Joseph’s progeny and the other tribes of Israel, those who became the Lost Tribes, and the main tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi who all stayed in the land. In most traditions it’s understood all the tribes will reunite in the Messianic times.

 

The Arizal on The Root Souls of Our Leaders: Yaakov

Yaakov

I’m going to continue my series on the Kabbalistic root souls of the Patriarchs, from the work of the Arizal. And today I’m going to continue with Jacob, Yaakov, or as he’s also known, Israel or Yisrael.

Here are a few aspects of him, which I think are very important, transformative, transcendent and even mind-blowing aspects of our father, Jacob.

I should mention his wives as well… He had four wives altogether, but his two main wives were Leah and Rachel. Before Jacob ever got married at the age of 84 years, and before he even began looking for a wife, he fell in love. Meaning, he hadn’t even seen Rachel and he was in love with her.

At the end of the courting period, which was more than courting really, it was courting and birthing outside the land of Israel where he was living in the home of his father-in-law, Lavan, he also developed a serious connection with his other wife, Leah. She was Rachel’s sister.

It’s as though Jacob when he was still Jacob, he was on the level of soul-mating Rachel, his bashert.

When Jacob grew into an expanded state and renamed Israel, that’s when he was matched-up with Leah, and he was on her level.

This mirrors who Rachel and Leah are. The way we would say it today, Rachel was the very modest woman, religious from birth, and Leah was a master of teshuva, as she had the personality of someone who was out of it, then came into the fold later.  This reflects who Jacob was when he became Israel.

Even though Jacob had two names, unlike his grandfather, Abraham, who used to be Avram (and his wife Sarah, who used to be Sarai) Jacob went back and forth, sometimes using his old name. Abraham and Sarah never did that.

The Israelite people are called Israel when we are on a higher level, too. Like Jacob, we have our struggles with G-d, and we have a constant dialog, or a narrative with him, as did Jacob.

Jacob started out his life detached from worldliness, and that’s when he was known as Jacob the Tam, meaning Jacob, the holy-naivete person, whose actions bespeak simplicity, not ignorance of holiness.

As Jacob encountered the world, for his own sake and for our sake, he opens doors for all his progeny, until the end of time, and especially toward the messianic times. That’s when he becomes the Jacob who is able to leave his 20 years with his deceptive father-in-law, Lavan, and come into the world shining, to face the deception of the world and come out whole.

Jacob is the choice one of the three patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yisrael. His grandfather Avraham, fathered Ishmael, which represents the fall-out aspect of negativity that was removed from him, so that he could uphold and represent Chesed.  Abraham is the merkavah of Chesed for the world.  And the fall-out, the negativity that was removed from him before he could pass on his legacy was his son, Ishmael.

The fall-out from Issac, the middle Patriarch is Esau, or Esav. And these are known not only as individual sons, but entire nations that will continue until the end of time.

Jacob had no fall-out, and he was called Shalem; he was called whole, and it was said of him that, “his bed was complete,” and all of his children were all righteous. There was no fall-out, and that’s one of the distinctions between Jacob and the previous Patriarchs.

Jacob went from his home at his parents’ bidding, in order to start his family. He returned to Lavan’s country. But before doing that, he spent fourteen years in the home of Shem and Eiver, the two major scholars of the day. This period was a preparation for Jacob to be able to graduate into a much higher level, and to cope with the world of deception, because he was so entrenched in Torah.  Jacob didn’t even sleep for those fourteen years, and he came to make a family for himself.

Jacob had the trait of holiness, which could be translated as the ability to connect to the world from a mundane place, and to find holiness there, in the mundane aspects of the world

As a reflection of that, the Divine Providence that is drawn down by seeing G-d in all aspects of the world, G-d gives an inheritance to those people following in Jacob’s footsteps. That inheritance is boundless; it is endless for those who are making G-d boundless and endless in our world.

 

 

The Arizal on The Root Souls of Our Leaders: Moshe

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I’m going to continue with Arizal meditations, but I’m going into a new area. It’s a study of the root souls of the premiere leaders of our nation, from the Arizal’s point of view. I’m using a special book, called Root Souls, it’s in Hebrew of course, for most of my ideas, but also from a few other works as well.

Moshe Rabeinu is the logical first choice as a leader, so I’ll start with him.

Here are some interesting points about the root soul of Moses:

  1. Moses was the root of all the Jewish people. He was an all-containing person, meaning everything and everybody was basically inside of him. He was connected to everybody because he was an all-containing soul. All the people in the nation of Israel at the time of Moses, and all of us forevermore are all rooted in his soul. We’ve all received, and we continue to receive through him. That is a very significant aspect of who Moses is.

 

  1. Moses was a person who experienced and who knows all of Torah, which includes the oral Torah, the written Torah and all discussions about Torah in the past, present and future, until the end of time. His access to all of Torah, for all time, has incredible ramifications for us all. We all have our own personal relationship with Moses as a result.

 

  1. Moses made a decision, as the leader of the Jewish people, to bring the mixed multitude along with the Jewish people coming out of Eqypt. This group of people was far greater in number than the number of Israelites leaving Eqypt. His decision to include others was controversial, and in fact the presence of other people became the proverbial “thorn in the side” of our nation, at the time of the Exodus and still today.

 

  1. Moses was born circumcised, and aligned with the side of goodness, from birth. He was born after only 7 months in the womb, because he needed less time in gestation to become prepared to come out into the world. And he was born 120 years after the beginning of the Egyptian exile. Since the entire period of the exile was 210 years, Moses was 80 years old when he led the Jewish people out of Egypt.

 

The first 120 years correlates to the 120 years Adam was separated from his wife and had spilled his seed. The Israelites, therefore, were rectifying Adam’s losses during those years, and Moses was called as a leader after the rectification.

 

  1. Moses was the leader of his generation, not only in his own time. G-d declared, because he brought out mixed multitudes along with the Jewish people, and those others became the thorn in the side of the Jewish people in every generation, Moses would come back in every generation, too. He would reincarnate to take care of the mixed multitude, and by his very presence in our times, in a supernatural way, he dwells among us so we can be connected.

 

  1. Moses was, at the same time, the greatest of prophets and the greatest of scholars, and yet he was also the most humble of all human beings. This point needs deep study, in and of itself, meaning coming to understand a soul which is so humble it allows a person to receive everything, all of the prophetic insight and all of Torah.

 

  1. Moses, it is taught, was the reincarnation of Adam’s sons, Hevel (Abel) and Shet (Seth). Those names are represented in his own name, Moshe, with the Shin and the Hey, That source of his soul was a connection to the relationship between Cain and Abel, which played out in Moses’ life as his relationship with Jethro, a reincarnation of Cain. This spiritual reality is an example of the tikkun, the rectification needed at the time.

 

  1. Moses was able to see much more clearly than any other prophet before him, with his connections and his prophetic powers. He was able to see with an untarnished perspective, and to speak with G-d as a friend speaks with a friend. Other prophets saw through a mirror, so to speak, and their prophetic messages need interpretation because they don’t have the direct connection we have.

 

  1. Moses was born and he died on the 7th of Adar, at the age of 120 years old. This is an indication of the span of his years and also of the uniqueness and righteousness of that particular day on the calendar.

 

  1. Moses was considered to be an angel of G-d, certainly a man of G-d, and our Sages teach us that he was able to fast from food and water for 40 days and 40 nights, which is much more like G-d and it is like a human. He was definitely a man, but his face shown with a light so bright that other people couldn’t look at his face at all. In fact, Moses had to wear a mask to conceal that energy.

 

Our Sages tell us that Moses was very, very tall, 10 meters tall. So, he was a tall and a strong man, and generally beyond the level of normal people. But we’re told that if we’re able to find where he is and to pray for him, the Messianic era would arrive immediately. We don’t know exactly where Moses’ grave is located, and maybe it’s because the time isn’t right for us to know. It’s still a mystery…

 

  1. Moses was completely selfless and self-sacrificing as regards the wellbeing of his nation of people. He was willing to give up his own name, his own life for the sake of the nation. Sefirotically, Moses represents the sphere of Netzach of Eternity, of transcendence, of overcoming everything in an eternal way.

 

  1. Moses was the leader, and the one to whom people looked for guidance, and for everything, while at the same time he was very humble. We have to keep this dichotomy in mind in order to try and emulate Moshe in our own lives, to experience who he was and who he is now. We need to be able to look at Moses and see his all-inclusiveness, and then bring it into our lives, too.

 

We need to see and know the people outsides ourselves, and yet experience them inside ourselves. Like Moses, we need to feel the responsibility of all our people, and step up to that responsibility.

We have to be able to feel we have access to a lot more wisdom and G-dliness than we can even imagine, or certainly take credit for. We have to experience humility, even when we are great, or perhaps, as a result of being great. We have to see ourselves as humble people even as we feel the responsibilities.

 

  1. Moses represented the Sefira of Daat, of Knowing, and we have to try to find that inside ourselves as well.

The Arizal on the Root Souls of Our Leaders: Aharon

High-Priest

This is the continuation of the Patriarchal Sephirotic series, dealing with the root souls of our seven shepherds, and this one deals with Aharon, or Aaron Ha Cohen.

Aaron was the High Priest, the name he was known by. He is considered to be the Sephira of Hod, the counterpart of Netzach, which means he’s a counterpart of Moses. Hod and Netzach are like two partners, like Ying and Yang, balancing each other out.  So that’s how the two brothers, Moses and Aaron balanced each other out, in terms of their influence in the world.

Because Aaron was Hod, and Hod is the enabler, empowering other people to do things, he was tested regarding the weakness of enabling at the episode of the Golden Calf. Although all his intentions were pure, he allowed the erection of the Golden Calf while the people were waiting for Moses to return.  This incident affected history, and Aaron’s life as well.

One of the immediate effects on Aaron was a decree that two of his four sons would be killed by “strange fire,” during the erection of the Tabernacle for the first time. Two of his younger sons were consumed by fire and killed at that time.

Aaron is the paradigm High Priest, meaning all other High Priests after him were a genetic continuation of who he was, and also a Sephirotic continuation of who he was.

There are two other Sephirot connected with the High Priest. One is Chochma (Wisdom) and the other is Chesed (Lovingkindness), both of which function specifically in the healing role, what the High Priest does in affecting Kapparah, or the different healings the Cohen does for the purpose of atonement.

Aaron was the most mourned-after leader of Israel. For thirty solid days, in a very heartfelt way the people mourned the loss of Aaron. He was buried in the desert near Israel called Hor Hahar, and he was mourned that way because his role was as peacemaker, and he was constantly seeking the good of all the people.

He had the reputation of going to both sides in any antagonistic situation and make each side understand how the other side loves them. That’s how Aaron achieved peace in many situations and came to be beloved as a leader.

In his merit, we know, there were the clouds of glory that protected the Jewish People from their enemies. In Kabbalah we understand there were clouds of “surrounding light,” which protected the Israelites in the desert from foreign energies as well as people. These clouds are one of the expressions of the holiday of Sukkot, in which we dwell for seven days each fall, reminiscent of those clouds of glory.

Now I’m going to relate historical reincarnations of Aaron, so try to follow along:

First, between the brothers Cain and Able, Aaron came from the brother Able, as did his brother, Moses. That was his first reincarnation.

The second one was Abraham’s brother, Haran, a name that shares the same Hebrew letters as the name Aaron. Haran was afraid to jump into the fire in order to sanctify G-d’s name, for the purpose of pushing off idol worship. In other words, he didn’t have the right intentions and so he failed that particular test. That was his reincarnation as Abraham’s brother, and his tendencies would show up in future reincarnations, as we’ll see.

The third one was the two sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, because they were a type of reincarnation of Aaron. I as mentioned, they are the ones who died in the “strange fire.”

The next person reincarnated in this line was a person called Yaadetz, whose name, the inner, core part of his name means “sadness,” from the word atzue in Hebrew. He was a carrie of the impression of the sadness of the two sons of Aaron who passed away, in their previous reincarnation.

The next person was named Tola Ben Puah who was reminiscent of a worm, whose power resides in its mouth. That’s what “tola” means in Hebrew, and he came to fix the previous incarnation of overly-expressed vows, made by mouth.

The next reincarnation was Shmuel Ha Navi, or Samuel the prophet.  He was a traveling judge, and he came to fix Tola Ben Puah’s lack of traveling around Israel to judge and fix the people. So, Samuel came to fix that lack and accomplish that task.

The next reincarnation was Uriah Ha Chiti, who was originally the husband of King David’s main wife, Batsheva. King David sent Uriah into battle, where he was killed. David acquired divorces from all his soldiers before they were sent into battle, so he was able to marry Batsheva after Uriah died.

Uriah’s death was partly atonement for Aaron’s unwillingness to die for the sin of the Golden Calf.

Next is Uriah Ha Cohen, reincarnation of Aaron, and of his sons, all three of them in the same reincarnation. He was killed again in this reincarnation by a person named Yehoyakaim, once again an atonement for Aaron’s failure to give up his life for the sin of the Golden Calf.

And finally, Zechariah, the prophet was a reincarnation of Aaron. The last two reincarnations that came at the same time revealed the lowest level, the Nefesh level of Zechariah, whose name was Rabbi Eliyahu Ei Didosh, who authored a famous book called Raishit Chochma, and he came back as the nefesh of Zechariah.

And the one who came back as the Ruach, the next highest soul level of Zechariah, was named the Ramak, so that’s why these two were very good friends. They were two parts of the soul level of the same person, reincarnated at the same time.

The Arizal on The Root Souls of Our Leaders: Abraham

JourneyofAbraham

I’m going to talk about Abraham, from various sources, the Arizal and others, discussing the root of his soul.

Abraham is a person who bridges heaven and earth. One of the Sefirot he represents is Yesod, the Sefira of connection, which makes him the one to connect Heaven and Earth.

In the seven generations prior to Abraham, each one became more distant from the Shechina, all the way through the seven heavens. Abraham and the subsequent generations managed to bring the Shechina back down to earth, but he was the first of them.

Abraham was the patriarch, the father of our nation, as Avraham Avinu, Abraham our Father. He is also considered to be the patron of all converts, and usually a convert to Judaism is given a Jewish name, including bat or bar Avraham, meaning the daughter or the son of Abraham for that reason.

The three Patriarchs came to this world to rectify the three primal sins of Adam in the garden. Abraham specifically came to rectify the sin of idol worship. He was an expert, with a tractate containing four hundred chapters, based on his expertise on the subject. Issac rectified murder and Jacob rectified lust, the other cardinal sins along with idolatry.

Abraham was told to “go where I will tell you to go,” without being told by G-d exactly where he should be going, but to have faith, and to trust he would be directed towards the land of Israel. On a deeper level, the Hebrew words Abraham was given also mean, “go into yourself,” in order to be the primal “giver” in the world.

Abraham is called “the Hebrew,” or “Ivri” in the Hebrew language, a word meaning, “from the other side.” His experience was unique, and might be described, at the time, as “me vs the entire world.” His position gave him the ability to stand up, single-handedly, against the world, by virtue of the fact he is our Patriarch.

Monotheism, or belief in G-d, was introduced into the world by Abraham. His name was originally Avram, and then the letter Hey, giving the sound of the letter “h” was added to his name when he was circumcised at the age of one hundred years. His circumcision provided a level of perfection or wholeness, and thereafter he began to receive prophesy in a conscious way, rather than an unconscious way.

Abraham’s entire life was an explication of the Sefira of Chesed. Everything he did articulated what the Sephira of Chesed is all about. He was the “merkava,” or the “seat” of Chesed in the world.

The Arizal and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

ParadisePrincipleRASHBI

I’d like to continue with Root Soul collection of our leaders, by the Arizal.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and the Arizal

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away on the Sefira of the Hod of Hod, which is very significant, because in terms of the lower Sefirot, it’s the end of the line, meaning his soul comes from the highest place, which can reach down to the lowest place. Which accounts for the 500,000 people who come to visit his grave each year on the date of his passing, and they feel a personal connection to Rabbi Shimon because it’s part of his essence to reach from the highest people to the lowest people, so everyone can feel connected at their soul level.

Another aspect of Rabbi Shimon is that he was the one chosen to reveal mysticism to the whole world, because he could reveal everything, and only those with the ears to hear it would understand it . He had, what the Arizal called, “the surrounding light power,” allowing him to do that. Just say something and only those who can hear it properly will be able to hear it. That’s a significant feature of his classic, The Zohar, is all about.

Rabbi Shimon is understood to have come from the soul root of Moshe, and just  like Moshe escaped from Egypt and went into the wilderness, where he stayed for many years and eventually, he came out of the wilderness to redeem the Jewish people, to be their redeemer, their messenger of G-d and to bring them out of Egypt, too.

So too R. Shimon escaped Roman persecution, because he spoke his mind and he was fearless, and he came out to redeem the Jewish people with his master work—the Zohar. He was a complete tsaddik, with nothing to be afraid of, even though the Romans were chasing him because of his fearlessness.

Rabbi Shimon hid in a cave for 13 years, and when he came out he revealed the entire Zohar, just as Moshe came out to his people and the Torah was revealed, at Mount Sinai.

He died with a smile on his face because on his last day, he was able to reveal eternal, limitless Torah. And his soul included everybody, as did Moshe’s. So, on the day of Lag B’Omer, when we go and we meet to think and talk and study about Rabbi Shimon, we can all feel the connection, because we’re all included in his soul.

He was the person who revealed the Zohar, which means Brilliant Light, and it: 1) brought light into the darkness, and 2) will be the vehicle to bring redemption to the whole world, through the power of its consciousness. Rabbi Shimon’s mystical viewpoint in the Zohar,  which enhances everything in life. That’s what Kabbalah is all about, and why it has the power to enhance every thought, every word and every purpose in life, especially the inner dimension, and to connect it all with G-d.

That’s Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Now, the Arizal……The Arizal  is the reincarnation of Rabbi Shimon, and also of Moshe. He came from the highest possible levels of soul root, and had the prophet Elijah at his side at all times. There are certain souls that come down into the world, not to fix themselves but to fix up a whole generation of other people. The Arizal came to bring Moshiach into his generation, if it had been worthy. But he was able to teach his main student, Rabbi Chaim Vital.

In a very short lifespan he was able to reveal an incredible amount of wisdom, in quantity and quality. At this time we don’t have access to the majority of his teachings, given during his lifetime. The Arizal came from the beyond, and therefore he was beyond a normal human being.  He was: expert in all areas of Torah, skilled in understanding the songs and sounds of birds and animals, and wise in the ways of every person, knowing everything they had done and knowing their thoughts, past present and future.

The Arizal could see the reincarnation of every person.  And he could open Torah and read about a person, then that person would manifest before him. He was able to read a person by their scent, and know all they had ever done. And he didn’t achieve anything through magic or Practical Kabbalah, which he taught a strong prohibition against.

He was able to realize so much in his life because he was such a righteous, ascetic, diligent scholar, more so than anyone else in his generation. And he was pure and holy, having come from a higher world, and constantly communicating with Elijah, who taught him secrets, mouth to mouth.

There’s a lot more to say, but that will suffice for right now.

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