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Even people who never sinned die "because of the bite of the snake."

Sin, Impurity, and Zuhama

Sin, Impurity, and Zuhama

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Twenty-Three, Section 2


This is the meaning of the verse, "It is your sins that separate you from your G‑d" (Isaiah 59:2); Kelipa which results from sin clothes the soul and stands between it and G‑d, preventing the flow of light. This idea is hinted at in the Talmud: "We learn that the snake came upon Eve and imparted zuhama [spiritual dirt] to her."1 (Avoda Zara 22b )

...the snake came upon Eve and imparted zuhama [spiritual dirt] to her.

This was the case for Adam as well, and all his descendants after him until the days of Moshiach, since they [their souls] were included in Adam at the time of the sin. Thus all people die "because of the bite of the snake," since all were affected by the zuhama. Nevertheless, not all souls are equal, because every soul was blemished according to its proximity to the sin.

Some limbs were more directly involved in the sin than others, and so were damaged more. E.g., the hands actually took the fruit, the mouth ate it, whereas the chest only derived nourishment.

However, all sins that people perform on their own, that is, other than the one that Adam committed, draws kelipa to them, depending upon the severity of the sin committed. However, a person’s teshuvah can push away the zuhama that came to him because of his sin, even in the case of very serious sins.

The dirt and the kelipot that bond with all souls as a result of the sin of Adam are not affected by teshuvah, necessitating death to rectify the defect. For even though G‑d accepted Adam’s teshuvah and granted him atonement, nevertheless the zuhama and kelipa remained with him as when he sinned. It only separates from us at death, since he committed a very serious crime, for many reasons that we will not explain here.

This is the secret of those who died [only] from the bite of the snake: Benjamin, Yishai, Kilav [one of David's sons – Ed.], Levi, and Joshua bin Nun who did not participate in the sin of the calf, as the Zohar says (Zohar I 53a, Shabbat 55b). In other words, even though they did not commit any sins, they still had to die, since the kelipa and zuhama adhered to them as a result of Adam’s sin and only leaves at death. This is also the secret of what the Sages mean when they refer to the zuhama of the snake that was imparted to Adam and Eve.

We need to explain why death causes a separation of the kelipot from man. First of all, kedushah [holiness] is called life. As it says, "See! I place before you life and good" (Deut. 30:15), and, "Those who adhere to G‑d your L-rd - all of you are alive today" (Deut. 4:4). This is because it is G‑d who gives sustenance and food to all of his creations.

...the kelipa cannot leave him until he dies...

However, the sitra achra, which removes [flow] from creations, is called death, as it says [in the former verse], "and death and evil". Thus when a person sins, he draws the sitra achra, called death, towards him. Therefore the kelipa cannot leave him until he dies, when the flesh rots in the soil. Then the kelipa that was tied to him leaves along with the kelipa from the zuhama that was imparted to Adam and Eve.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Eve's eating from the tree gave the snake the power over her to inject its negative energies.
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: 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
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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