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When a person profanes the name of G-d, it causes an aspect of death in the world of life and eternity.

Levels of Teshuvah

Levels of Teshuvah

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Twenty-One, Section 4a

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The second level within Asiya is when tiferet becomes disconnected from bina as well, in a way that causes Asiya to descend to the first three sefirot of the kelipot. It is caused by the transgression of a positive mitzvah. This teshuvah is also called teshuv-hei, since it causes the lower hei/malchut to be reconnected to the upper hei/bina[in turn] allowing tiferet to ascend as well.

The third level with respect to Asiya is when a person transgresses a positive mitzvah in such a way as to damage bina and cause it to descend, [thereby causing] Asiya to descend to the last three sefirot of the kelipot. When he repents, it is also considered tashuv-hei, since teshuvah is from bina and its [power] goes down [and extends] until malchut. Then malchut and tiferet will return [together], for bina descending causes them to join, and this [itself] is teshuvah.

Bride and groom unite under a chupah. They embody tiferet and malchut. The light of bina descends to engulf and unite them. (Tefilat Kol HaShanah, Drushin LiChatanah) It is clothed in the chupah that is used for the marriage ceremony.

In order for opposites to unite, an energy that transcends them both must be drawn.

In order for opposites to unite, an energy that transcends them both must be drawn. (Likutei Torah, Baal HaTanya) This is part of the reason why teshuvah comes from bina, the eighth sefira, the transcending force of this universe of seven days/directions.1

The fourth level is when a person transgresses a positive mitzvah in such a way as to damage chochma, causing it to separate from keter. When such a person repents it is also teshuvah/tashuv-hei, since he causes the upper hei to return to keter, at which time chochma will ascend with it. We have now explained the first division of atonement.

One example of this is when someone learns Torah in manner of amassing data without reverence for G‑d. "The Torah comes out from chochma." (Zohar) This means the place from which it is revealed. But its hidden source is keter. In order to access the true light of the Torah, one must draw from these places. This involves learning with reverence for G‑d and also that the learning experience be geared to be an uplifting of consciousness.

This concept poignantly expresses what is considered to be an underlying cause of the desolation of the land of Israel after the destruction of the first Temple. "‘So says G‑d, because they abandoned My Torah…’ [This means that] they did not bless on the Torah first [before their Torah learning]." (Nedarim 81a) It is the blessing on the Torah that draws from keter, the first of levels, into chochma. The word brachah literally means a fountain - of the light of the Infinite One shining into chochma. One who does not do this lacks the fulfillment of the root of the positive commandments. This is the idea behind the fourth level of not doing a positive commandment.

The second division of atonement is when a person violates a negative mitzvah, for which his teshuvah is 'suspended' [does not evoke immediate forgiveness], and so for which Yom Kippur must atone. This is because the person sinned and damaged Yetzira, specifically the level of tiferet, causing malchut to separate, as well as the six sefirot of Yetzira.

His simple repentance only reaches to malchut and therefore he needs the engine of Yom Kippur to fuel and propel his teshuvah up to repair Yetzira.

It is important to note that there are deeper degrees of teshuvah that indeed by themselves ascend to Yetzirah and even above, to mend. This applies to the following divisions of atonement that require other things with teshuvah to repair.

The deeper one digs in his heart to return to G‑d, the greater the velocity and the higher the teshuvah will reach.

The deeper one digs in his heart to return to G‑d, the greater the velocity and the higher the teshuvah will reach. Therefore, "nothing stands before teshuvah". (Yerushalmi Pe'ah, Chapter 1)

The underlying idea is that the common denominator of bina and teshuvah both draw from bina. As mentioned, teshuvah is the grand transcending energy of existence. The secret of its power to repair is that it is the pure, pristine, untainted source in the universe. Anything can so be fixed by harnessing this amazing energy. The only issue is how much of this energy needs to be drawn to fix a specific mistake. The greater the mistake, the more needs to be drawn, as we find in actual cases of those who did the worst things and repaired everything through teshuvah. ( Avodah Zara, Gittin)

When this person repents, then malchut returns to its place in the secret of teshuvah/tashuv-hei. However, regarding the six sefirot, a void remains among them, and though it [malchut] wants to rise and bond with them, it cannot and will not be able to until the light of Beriya [bina] comes, which is called 'Yom Kippur'. This is what is meant by, "his teshuvah is suspended and Yom Kippur atones."

"A day one repents is above time...and so is Yom Kippur above time." (Likutei Moharan)

Once someone did something and etched it into reality, how can they possibly change it? It must be that the power of repentance draws from a higher reality. And so the Sages teach, "Teshuvah preceded the world". (Breishit Raba 1:4) Coming from a deeper dimension, it affords the ability to enter the master booth and edit the film of Life.

In order to access this awesome power, one must go to a deeper dimension of the self. Change in such a place evokes a tremor of change in the depths of existence/reality.

Within this level, there are also the four levels we mentioned with respect to Asiya, except that all of them are in the secret of Yetzira descending into Asiya and not into the kelipot.

The third level of atonement is when a person commits a sin whose punishment is kareit [excision]2, which blemishes Beriya.

KRT/kareit comes from KTR/keter - for its damage reaches to there, and from there the person is cut off.

Perhaps here things are being said in relative terms. For the Ari here mentions the world of Beriya in terms of its association with chochma, and bina and Atzilut with keter, while elsewhere Beriya identifies with bina alone and Atzilut only with chochma. The effect of chillul Hashem is worse than that of sins involving kareit and is therefore described as reaching until keter. Kareit issues, which are not as bad, are described as coming to a notch lower, chochma and bina. This however doesn't mean to say that they have no line to keter also.

The brit [covenant] God established with people is as if from His highest self3 - keter. Different mistakes cause different problems. Some do not go so deeply as to disturb the brit. There are however those that do. This is the idea of our category at hand. The brilliant light of keter becomes kareit. This is a prime example of how raw energy can be utilized either way.4

As seen from here, teshuvah helps even for such deep disturbances.

When he repents, Yom Kippur is also [only able to] suspend [his atonement]. For tiferet and malchut cannot return to their places until suffering comes from Abba and Imma, which has the effect of purging sin. In the secret of, "YH [G‑d] has much chastised me" (Psalms 118:18). "YH" refers to Abba and Imma. Also in the secret of "From the straits I called YH" (Psalms 118:5). From these come trouble and suffering. There are four levels here as well.

As mentioned previously, the yud of G‑d’s Name corresponds to Atzilut /chochma /Abba, the following hei corresponding to Beriya/bina/Imma.

Chochma and bina, the eighth and ninth sefirot, transcend our world of seven days/directions from the seven lower sefirot. As said, the simple meaning of this is that the secret of how suffering actually fixes and is good comes from a source above this world.

Suffering purges a person of sins that the lowest degree of teshuvah has not.

Suffering purges a person of sins that the lowest degree of teshuvah has not. It is a function of Providence emanating from chochma and bina.

As mentioned, it is important to note that the amount of suffering necessary for rectification all depends upon the degree of teshuvah; the greater the teshuvah, the less pain necessary to make repair.

What do chochma and bina have to do with suffering? The world was created for love. (Psalms 81:3) There is nonetheless an opposite movement planted in the inner workings of the universe which is designed to ultimately bring about the greatest expression of love. One who made mistakes, damages and soils his soul and makes it unfit to receive this love. Suffering cleanses and restores the soul to its full fitness. Chochma and bina are the source mental faculties. The lower sefirot are the source of both the emotions and the time/space continuum. This means that from their perspective, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are determined by what is experienced in the moment. In terms of the moment, suffering is felt as being not good. In order to appreciate the gift of good that it grants the soul, one needs to transcend the small limited picture of the moment. This is why the tikun of suffering is drawn from chochma and bina which transcend the moment/world/limited outlook.

The fourth division of atonement is when a person commits 'chillul Hashem' [profanes the name of G‑d], which has the effect of damaging Atzilut, also called the 'world of [eternal] life' - since there is no death there. Yet he caused[some aspect of] death in the world of life and eternity, and therefore his teshuvah and Yom Kippur suspend [punishment], since none of the three worlds can ascend there - until the day of his death, measure-for-measure. This [then] completely atones for him, and there are also four levels here.

Dishonoring the Divine Name...shakes the foundations of existence.

"All that I created - for My honor I created, formed - indeed made…" (Isaiah 43:7). Dishonoring the Divine Name does the opposite and shakes the foundations of existence. This is how it touches the untouchable place, Atzilut. Even though it is intrinsically a place of such pure high light no damage can affect it, chillul Hashem/ profanation of G‑d's Name can at least masquerade to reach there because it is so serious a sin.

The literal meaning of the word chillul comes from challal, literally meaning empty. Challal is also used to refer to a corpse, devoid of soul. The implication is very deep. This word is further associated with the concept of the challal hapanoi [empty vacuum], the original empty space that was made to facilitate reality. (Eitz Chaim, Likutei Moharan 49) A line of light was drawn into the vacuum; from it everything was made. As said, the purpose of this is for the Divine glory. Dishonor, as it were, cloaks and removes the shining of the line of light, leaving an ‘empty vacuum’, hence chillul Hashem.5

Now it can be understood why removing of the soul of one committed this sin repairs it. Measure for measure, he caused challal/vacuum above; therefore, the same happens to him. This however doesn't means to say that there are no other means of repair. The simplest alternative, which is actually sweet and easy, is for someone to increase in honoring and sanctifying G‑d’s name. Give Him a good reputation in any and every way that you can; "that the Name of Heaven should become beloved through you." (Yoma 86:1)

A deeper form of repair is through deep teshuvah. One who caused a concealment of the deepest aspect of Divinity needs to return to G‑d from the deepest aspect of self. This involves teshuvah from great love and mesirut nefesh/self-sacrifice. Measure for measure, G‑d reciprocates and restores his missing light and honor.6 Giving the deepest inner self evokes that level to come down from Above. Moreover, "great are repentants for they draw light with extra power". (Zohar) The light restored is actually greater than what was removed.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Footnotes
1.
Six directions plus the middle point. (Maharal)
2.
These cases are mostly enumerated in parashat Kedoshim.
3.
That is, relative to us; indeed the intrinsic Divine Essence is infinitely aloof even from keter. [“Even the supernal keter is dark before the ‘Cause of Causes’” (Zohar)]. But in the manifestations of the sefirot, keter, the highest sefira, is as if the highest rung of Divinity.
4.
As seen soon also by other word pairs such as oneg-nega, shefa-pesha. In truth, “from the mouth of the Supernal One no evil comes out” (Eccl.). The so to speak Divine face manifests to a person according to what face that person shows G‑d. The pure, pristine keter force is most certainly not given to be tainted no matter what anyone does. But a person can ‘blow the circuits’ and cause the expression of this energy to himself to be harmful. The holy connection to G‑d in the aspect of brit can be turned to losing connection above and being left bereft of manifest G‑dliness. (See Likutei Moharan 36)
5.
Hashem means Name. The first thing made by the light is the Divine Name. A hiding of the light hides expression of the Name.
6.
“And the earth shines from His glory” (Hagiga). Honor and light are conceptually synonymous. When you honor someone, you figuratively grant them existence. The more honor you give them, the more they are real to you, themselves, and the universe. As seen in worldly terms - the more prestige a person has, the more power they have. Light also possesses this quality. Even though everything that exists in a room exists equally with light or without it, the meaningfulness of all that is in the room depends greatly upon light.
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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