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There are eleven mitzvahs in the left-shoulder

Soul-Roots in the Shoulders

Soul-Roots in the Shoulders

Gate of Reincarnations - Chapter Seventeen, Section 2

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The 600,000 explanations of Torah include the levels of Peshat, Agada

A term usually used for the Midrashic sections of the Talmud, but, which can apply to all midrashim.

There is not one Jewish soul that does not include all four levels [of explanations]

…and Kabbalah, and are alluded to by the letters of the word "Pardes" [pei-reish-dalet-sod]. There is not one Jewish soul that does not include all four levels, but there are some souls that can grasp [only] two levels of explanations while others can grasp even more.

The soul of Moses was able to grasp all 600,000 explanations of Torah, as the Sages indicated when they wrote that he knew even that which every student would [eventually] innovate (Megillah 19b). This was because his soul incorporated all 600,000 Jewish souls.

Moses is the grand soul-root of Israel. All the souls, for all generations, that branch out of him, are existentially as his students. He therefore automatically knows each person's special Torah portion and the novelties that come with it.

Likewise, the rest of the wise men of Israel will grasp according to the amount of souls included within each.

One time, a person came before my teacher who looked at him and spoke to him about a certain matter. I am writing about it here in case one can make connections and understand other matters regarding the performance of mitzvahs. This is what he wrote for him.

With regard to both positive and negative mitzvahs, there are those which are considered "masculine" and some which are considered "feminine."

The positive commandments come from the male, active movement in the soul, as opposed to the negative commandments which come from the female, passive motion.

All of the 248 limbs of the souls of Adam are comprised of what is called "flesh," "tendons," and "bones," as is known. The flesh and the bones are the positive mitzvahs of that limb and the tendons are the negative mitzvahs. Later, with the help of God, we will explain that these tendons are not included in those that comprise the 365 Tendons.

He told him that the root from which his soul was taken was the left-shoulder limb of Adam, from the level of the partzuf of Leah standing behind him. The number of mitzvahs in that limb called the left-shoulder are eleven positive mitzvahs, the numerical value of vav-hei (VH), the last two letters of the Tetragramaton.

Their gematria is equal to "katef" [shoulder], in a manner called "Haka’a" [collision]

A form of gematria that takes the letters and 'throws' them at each other in the 'collision' of multiplication.

The letters are the basic building blocks of existence. We can accordingly look at them as the 'atoms' of the root spiritual plane from which all comes. The process here outlined can thus be viewed as a type of 'atomic letter collider'. As we will see, the results are indeed explosive.

"Hit" [multiply] vav-yud-vav [the expanded form of the vav of the Tetragramaton - 22] and hei-yud [the expanded form of the hei - 15] i.e., 22 times 15 and they equal shin-lamed [330]; vav-vav [then take another form of vav expansion: 12] times hei-yud [15] and they equal kuf-pei [180]; for a [sum] total of tav-kuf-yud [510]. Subtract eleven, the number of vav-hei [VH itself]…

The root letter values of this equation are not included in the final tally. The reason for this is that the point of this spiritual formula is to utilize the energies extracted by multiplication.

…and what remains is tav-kuf [500] with the "kollel" [plus one]…

There is always an option to add one to the numerical value of any word. The gematria of the word tells us how many inner lights energize it. Then there is a singular surrounding light that encompasses all of those energies. It can therefore always be added.

…the gematria of "katef". – The idea is that we see how the energies that comprise the shoulder come out of the power of vav-hei/eleven. This shows an inherent connection between vav-hei, the number eleven, positive commandments, and the shoulder [being that there are 11 positive commandments in the shoulder – Ed. Note]

There are ten sefirot on the side of holiness. Eleven represents the next step down - i.e. the spark that intentionally exiles and descends to the sitra achra in order to provide it with its necessary life force (Shaar Hakedusha Ketoret, Shichrut Shel Purim)

From vav-hei comes the lower seven sefirot. They span until malchut, who is the secret agent central. It periodically descends to redeem its exiled sparks. vav-hei is thus the battery that energizes the revelation of Divinity in all of the far-flung, outcast corners of existence.

Every positive commandment possesses this power. They therefore are all drawn from vav-hei, the root energy for this. This is in line with the teaching of the Ramban that the main acquisition of perfection is through the positive commandments, whereas the negative commandments are designed to guard the soul from bad energies. Through fulfilling the positive mitzvoth, manifestation of G‑dliness spreads through all of reality.

However, there are fifteen negative mitzvahs in the Shoulder Limb, like the first two letters of the Tetragramaton (yud-hei). As the Sages said (in explanation of the verse "This is 'shmi' [in Hebrew, My name] forever, and this is 'zichri' [the way I am to be mentioned] for all generations" (Ex. 3:15). yud-hei [15] with "shmi" [350, equals] 365, and vav-hei [11] with "zichri" [237, My mention, equals] 248 (Zohar 1:24a).

These two letters also total the gematria of "katef," in the following way: yud-vav-daled [20] times hei-yud [15] equals 300; yud-vav-daled [20] times hei-hei [10] equals 200, for a total of 500, the gematria of "katef."

This demonstrates an inherent linkage between yud-hei, number fifteen, negative commandments, and the shoulder [being that there are 15 negative commandments in the shoulder – Ed. Note]

From yud-hei come the upper three sefirot (Eitz Chayim). They are the source of the mental faculties. The negative commandments are primarily to protect the soul from falling into the sitra achra. "The eyes of the sage are in his head" (Ecclesiastes 2:14). "The beginning of wisdom is fear of G‑d" (Psalms 111:10). yud-hei is higher than vav-hei. On the outside, action seems to accomplish more than passiveness. On the inside, there are times that the opposite turns out to be true. No matter how much you do, that's as far as it goes - whatever was done was done, and no more. When you don't do anything, it is certainly less, because you have accomplished nothing. However, there is a positive aspect to doing nothing. Only through not doing—that is, through 'doing' the negative commandments does one connect with infinity.

How does one do them? When they come to hand (Talmud). If someone never has the opportunity to commit murder, he gets no reward for having not killed. However, if the opportunity presents itself to kill someone that one wants to kill, this is called 'fulfilling' the mitzvah not to murder. At that time, one connects with the infinite aspect of nothingness that lies underneath the simple zero. This elevates the soul to connection with Divinity far beyond what it accomplishes by doing. And this is the secret of why the negative commandments are rooted above the positive commandments. This is hinted to in "a woman (the negative commandments) of valor is the crown of her husband (the positive commandments)" (Chagiga).

Through the simple aspect of guarding the negative commandments, the soul is saved from falling into the kelipot. The positive commandments come up every day, and it is through actively doing them that the soul draws and connects with G‑d's light. However, when the negative commandments do come into play, in a hidden way, they give the soul access to rare, precious, boundless levels that compliment and augment the lights of the positive commandments.

The Ari specifically chose to explain the mitzvahs of the shoulder.

What remains to be understood, is the connection of all this to the shoulder. And, in general, we need to understand why the Ari specifically chose to explain the mitzvahs of the shoulder, when each limb has mitzvahs that come from it.

As mentioned, most souls stem from the grand Cain and Abel roots. Later we will be told that they themselves are rooted in the right and left shoulder of their father Adam. Since these roots that are found in the shoulder include most of humanity, the Ari here uses them as the classic example of limbs that mitzvahs come from. And for this reason itself we find the Tetragramaton hinted to in the number of mitzvahs in the shoulder, for it shows that the point of the souls' creation and succeeding obligation to fulfill mitzvahs is in order to reach complete attachment to G‑d. It is the mitzvahs that provide access to G‑dliness through connecting us with the medium of His name – the Divinity conductor.

However, we still need to fathom why G‑d made the Cain and Abel centrals rooted in the shoulder?!

There are three parts of the mind, drawn from chochma, bina, da'at. From chochma and bina come certain abilities. Da'at does not add anything; rather it fuses these right/left mental powers (Likutei Torah by Ba'al HaTanya). Curiously enough, the Ari. calls the right and left side of the mind 'itran d'da'at' – the crowns of the mind. From this is comes that chochma and bina clothe the two shoulders of Arich Anpin. The light of these two shoulder roots descends and energies the mentality as two crowns. They are called crowns because they come from the surrounding light, which always surrounds and crowns the level beneath it.

The original test was with the tree of knowledge. Therefore the whole soul-scenario focuses around the source of knowledge, the mind. The rectification of the mind is made through drawing to it the surrounding lights (Likutei Moharan 21:11). Therefore are the soul centrals rooted in the shoulders, the source of drawing these lights to the mind.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria […Ashkenazi ben Shlomo] (5294-5332 = 1534-1572 c.e.); Yahrtzeit (anniversary of death): 5th of Av. Buried in the Old Cemetery of Tzfat. Commonly known as the Ari, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzchak, the
G-dly Rabbi Isaac. No other master or sage ever had this extra letter Aleph, standing for Elohi [G-dly], prefaced to his name. This was a sign of what his contemporaries thought of him. Later generations, fearful that this appellation might be misunderstood, said that this Aleph stood for Ashkenazi, indicating that his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had. But the original meaning is the correct one, and to this day among Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria is only referred to as Rabbenu HaAri, HaAri HaKadosh [the holy Ari] or Arizal [the Ari of blessed memory].
Yitzchok bar Chaim is the pseudonym of the translator, an American-born Jerusalem scholar who has studied and taught Kabbala for many years. He may be contacted through: webmaster@kabbalaonline.org. He translated the Ari's work, "Shaar HaGilgulim;" his translation into English (but with much less extensive commentary than offered here). Information about his translation in book form may be obtained through www.thirtysevenbooks.com
Rabbi Chaim Vital c. 5303-5380 (c. 1543-1620 CE), major disciple of R. Isaac (Yitzchak) Luria, and responsible for publication of most of his works.
Rabbi Peretz Auerbach, originally from New York, has been living and learning Torah and kabbala in Jerusalem for 18 years. He teaches at Shvu Ami beit medrash, lectures in Kabbalah and chassidut at the Jerusalem Connection and Heritage House and to private groups. Rabbi Auerbach is also a talented musician. He is currently working on an all new translation of the Zohar into English with extensive commentary as well as a disc entitled "Music, Meditation and Mysticism."
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