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G-d in His love is so concerned about fixing the soul that He always provides a means for its repair.

The Foundation of Teshuvah

The Foundation of Teshuvah

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Twenty-One, Section 1

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Teshuvah is a function of Imma and gilgul is a function of Abba.1 Therefore, anyone who sins and does teshuvah, Imma Ila’a [Supernal Imma] - which is called teshuvah - rectifies the blemish, which is sufficient.

If he does not do teshuvah, then he will have to reincarnate to rectify his sins.

However, if he does not do teshuvah, then he will have to reincarnate to rectify his sins, a function of Abba which is called 'machshava' [thought].2 With respect to this it says, "He thinks thoughts [devises means, in Hebrew, 'choshaiv machshavot'] so that he who is banished is not cast away from Him." (Samuel II 14:14), since by bringing him back in gilgul he rectifies his transgression.

The point is that G‑d in His love is so concerned about fixing the soul that He always provides a means for its repair. The best thing is if one takes the initiative to fix himself through teshuvah. If not, Providence still steps in and shuffles the life-cycle. This requires an even greater juggling of destiny than if one repents. Therefore, it comes from Abba, a higher source than Imma.3

We will now explain the concept of teshuvah, since we already began in chapter six discussing the steps of teshuvah, of which there are eight. However, here we will discuss it in another manner, and in the process explain the statement of Rabbi Matya ben Cheresh in the last chapter of Yoma (86a), regarding the four divisions of atonement: One who transgresses a positive mitzvah and repents, etc.

In general, TShVShH/teshuvah means 'TShVSh-H/teshuv-hei' [restore hei].4 (Zohar) For, as is well known, man incorporates all the worlds. Even though he may not presently merit all of them - perhaps only the nefesh of Asiya - still, he is created with the potential to achieve all of them through his actions - all those [levels] that [become] dependent upon him [as he grows]. According to his actions, he can achieve either Yetzira, Beriya, or, Atzilut. This is the secret of the verse, "He creates the ruach of man within him" (Zachariah 12:1). As the Midrash says, "The nefesh of a person grows while it is within him".

The soul of a person grows while it is within him.

A person needs to train and educate himself in order to literally raise his own spirit. "Train a child according to his way" (Proverbs 24:6). One needs to learn the nature of his soul and what speaks to it. This means uplifting the soul in the manner that works for it.

For some this means increased self-discipline. For others it means to ease up and increase patience. At times both are necessary at the same time. Prayer is imperative to help call the shot and know at each time what will be productive and conducive to growth.

It all depends upon this idea of ‘tashuv H [restore hei]’: Restore malchut to G‑d, the true King of Kings. Self-awareness comes from malchut. The ego separates the self from God. Repentance means realizing that its not me – it's all G‑d. This restores the soul to its source in Divinity.

However, there is a great difference between one who merits one level as opposed to another level, and this leads to another principle: The nefesh of a person includes 248 limbs and 365 tendons, as does the ruach and neshama. When a person sins he causes blemish to the limbs of his nefesh or ruach or neshama.

This gives reason to always be careful what one does with his limbs in all actions. Whatever happens below so causes the parallel to happen above. (Zohar II Teruma)

Moreover, the state of the body by the revival of the dead is determined by what one does here while alive. If someone defected in a limb it will be incomplete in the next world. (Mishne Berura Introduction) For example, one who withheld his hand from giving charity might get up from the grave handless. A general precautionary remedy is to always be giving and loving.5

The extent of his sin will depend upon what he has thus far achieved: if he has only his nefesh then he will blemish the nefesh, if ruach then ruach, if neshamah then neshamah. So, according to the greatness of a person’s nefesh is the strength of a person’s evil inclination. As the Talmud says, "Anyone who is greater than his friend - his evil inclination is [accordingly] greater."(Sukka 52b)

Anyone who is greater than his friend - his evil inclination is greater.

Therefore, it is not at all surprising if at times great people seem to fall into terrible things. Rabbi Nachman states that the public is mistaken in certain issues. For one, they think that a tzadik cannot make a mistake. And if for some reason he does, he is not anymore a tzadik… The truth is, "The bigger they are, the higher they fall."

"The purpose of descent is for ascent." (Ba'al Shem Tov) "Seven [times] falls the tzadik and gets up." (Proverbs 24:16). Were it not that he fell he would not have gotten up. One who gets up after stumbling stands up stronger than he did before.

The reason is because G‑d made a counterpart for everything, and therefore just as there is ABY"A on the side of holiness so too is there on the side of the kelipot as well. This is the secret of, "The wicked one watches for the righteous" (Psalms 37:32) - because he wants to mimic the side of holiness, like a monkey does a man.

The as-if equal aligning of the sitra achra opposite the kedusha preserves the necessary balance of free will. (See Likutei Moharan II 11)

One is alerted not to follow the impersonation, rather to constantly look for the real thing.

The Zohar provides the monkey parable to describe the whole workings of the sitra achra. Realizing this, one is alerted not to follow the impersonation, rather to constantly look for the real thing. (Likutei Moharan) In simple terms, the heart is to always look for the honor of God, in every thought/word/deed - and not for the honor of the ego. (Likutei Moharan 6)

Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman used to say that Darwin was only able to entertain his theory because he never saw a real tzadik. For if he had, he would have experienced the real truth of how the true plateau of man is so far above, aloof, and removed from even the most sophisticated similar animal that there is no place for any supposition that he comes from it.

Nonetheless, every falsity must contain some light and have some source in truth. (Midrash Raba) The order of the supernal worlds is arranged in an order of the evolution principle. One level is as if born and evolving from the level above it. They so develop and progress - coming to a climax in this world.6 The chained cascading downward order of rungs features the inner Divine light clothed more and more as it descends. The final product is this world of dense physicality. It is rock bottom where the buck stops. It becomes the arena for free will. The stage is set for man to reverse direction and ascend back up through the worlds.

The Torah is God’s prescribed formula for "reverse evolution." It guides a person step by step to ascend to higher and higher levels of revelation of Divinity. The material nature thereby becomes elevated and cleansed.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Footnotes
1.
This is what was alluded to above in Chapter 20 when it spoke about the yud, which the Zohar says refers to the sefira of chochmah being the secret of gilgul.
2.
“They [all of the sparks] are elevated through thought [chochma].” (Zohar)
3.
There are different aspects, arrangements and systems through which Providence functions. In His supreme, exalted, unfathomable greatness, G‑d actually works through varied orders at the same time. This explains how at times dissonant and even contradictory dynamics are happening at the same time. The Torah teaches what is considered to be real giving, real loving.
4.
The Hebrew word for repentance, teshuvah, literally means returning or restoring. In the act of teshuvah, one returns to G‑d. The Zohar explains in addition that the word 'teshuvah' can be split in two: 'teshuv' + the letter hei, which would translate as "return [the] hei", referring to a letter hei in the Divine Name.
5.
The Torah teaches what is considered to be real giving, real loving.
6.
Even though this world is last in levels, it is ‘first in thought and last in deed” (Lecha Dodi prayer) - the point of it all. In this sense it is the grand crescendo and climax.
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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