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The reincarnation of Joseph’s soul into Rebbi Yishmael had to occur for two reasons.

Joseph's Soul

Joseph's Soul

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Thirty-One, Section 7b

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This is the secret of, "He appointed it as an eidut [testimony] to Joseph …" (Psalms 81:6) - since Joseph merited to receive the neshama of Enoch which is called "eidie" [My witness], as said. Therefore Joseph was "yafeh to’ar" [handsome], (Gen. 39:6) because he merited Adam's yafyo [beauty1], which came to him from the edge of the neshama of supernal Atzilut.

The primary root of the soul of Joseph is in yesod, also known as "tzadik - who stands between heaven and earth (and unites them."2) Heaven and earth are relatively the sun and moon.3 Uniting them is the intrinsic ‘witness’ quality. This explains the correlation between Joseph and Enoch and why they are both Divine witnesses.

They are both also called "lad". (Gen. 37:2) This implies pending maturity. Yetzira draws from Zeir Anpin, who must go through katnut [constricted consciousness] in order to get to gadlut [expanded consciousness]. Enoch is the minister of the world - as if G‑d’s viceroy. "Earthly kingship is like heavenly kingship." (Brachot) Joseph was the viceroy to Pharaoh. (Gen. 41:40-44) The world is drawn from Zeir Anpin. It needs to grow up from the constricted state of consciousness - that presently perceives separation between above and below, to the expanded headset that will see above and below as one. Enoch and Joseph are the ones who have this special consciousness and are therefore in charge of the world - in order to labor to elevate it to the perfection it needs to attain.4

Neshama is always the transcendental, hence his beauty is otherwordly.

All of this is the reason behind Joseph’s extraordinary gorgeousness: An expression of the splendorous supernal lights of neshama of Atzilut in the physical. Neshama is always the transcendental, hence his beauty is otherwordly.5 "And Joseph was handsome in appearance and good looking." (Gen. 39:6)

However, Joseph did not merit this until the night of the "end of the two years," (Gen. 41:1) when it was decreed that he should leave jail - that very day he rose to greatness. So is it written, "[He appointed it as a testimony to Jehoseph] when He went out over the land of Egypt." (Psalms 81:6) This becomes understandable when you recall what we said in previous chapters, that the ruach or the neshama enters a person at night while he is sleeping.

"Descent is for the sake of ascent." (Ba'al Shem Tov) Joseph went through years of affliction and ended up living in great power, wealth, and honor as the viceroy of Egypt, the world’s greatest nation. His ‘testimony’ is special because it unites affliction and delight, slavery and freedom, poverty and riches. "‘He is Joseph’ (Gen. 42:6) - the same Joseph when he was king as when he was a slaveboy." (Megilah) The day he left jail served as the portal between both modes. It so is the intermediary category that includes and unites both. (Likutei Torah Baal HaTanya) The Rabbis have a tradition that that day was Rosh Hashanah (Rosh Hashanah) - the portal from the old year to the new year. A new light from above is then given to the world below. Joseph went out over Egypt in royalty empowered by the new year and the new soul it gave him. This subjugated the negative energies in Egypt and paved the way for his people to survive there in exile - and eventually get out.

The new soul often comes...during sleep.

The new soul often comes at ‘the changing of the guard’ - during sleep. The soul and the day leave. The soul returns together with a different day and its additional soul.

You can also understand what the Sages say based upon the end of the verse, "[He appointed it as a testimony to Jehoseph when He went out over the land of Egypt] when I heard a language unknown to me:" (Psalms 81:6) That night Gabriel came and taught him seventy languages. (Sotah 36b) What actually happened was that the neshama of Enoch/Matatron, the minister over the seventy nations, who knows their seventy languages, entered him that night and immediately he knew the seventy languages.

Even though the Rabbis teach that Gabriel was his linguist mentor, the Sefer Yetzira reveals that Gabriel was Joseph's general teacher. Through his learning with Gabriel, Joseph was elevated to a state to be able to receive the extra super-soul of Enoch by means of which he automatically knew the seventy languages.

The Rabbis point out that his name is spelled 'Jehoseph' in this verse - with an additional H/hei. It is the letter of malchut, (Zohar) and it furnished him with royal energies. The seventy kingdoms each have their own malchut-channel. Joseph ascended to the root of malchut and so accessed all of them. Moreover, through knowing their tongues he reigned over them: Physically, for he controlled Egypt, the superpower of the world at that period. Spiritually, he controlled all of the flow of sustenance to the world. (Zohar) This was all through his ‘perfect guarding of the covenant’, which subjugates all the nations and their tongues. (Likutei Moharan 19) This also links with the concept of H/malchut being the source of speech.6

This neshama of Enoch also reincarnated into Rabbi Yishmael son of Elisha the High Priest. And so with respect to Rabbi Yishmael it also says he was very yafeh to’ar. (Gittin 58a) This is the secret of what is written in Pirkei Heichalos, "When Rabbi Yishmael ascended to the exalted heights, Matatron called to him, ‘Return, my radiance.’"

The reincarnation into Rabbi Yishmael had to occur for two reasons. The first reason was because, G‑d said, "[Do not eat of the tree of knowledge,] for on the day that you eat you shall surely die." (Gen. 2:17) However, this neshama was not with Adam when he died, having been withdrawn, and so it never really suffered death.

We see from this what an awesome portion Joseph and Rabbi Yishmael his gilgul have in fixing the original sin. This is the reason why Joseph went through so much suffering, and Rabbi Yishmael was one of ‘the ten executed by the government’. (Gittin) He died al kidush Hashem [for the sanctification of the Divine name], fixing the opposite of that which was caused by the original sin. As mentioned, it had caused the departure of the zihara ila. Joseph and Rabbi Yishmael embodied the zihara ila in themselves. Their tremendous mesirut nefesh [self-sacrifice] paved a path for it to be eventually restored to the world at large.

This is the secret of why both of them suffered specifically through their good looks.

This is the secret of why both of them suffered specifically through their good looks. The wife of Potifar desired Joseph’s beauty. She tried to seduce him. When he refused, she turned the tables and accused him of it. Because of this, he was put into prison. (Gen. 39:1-20) When Rabbi Yishmael was sentenced to execution, the daughter of the Caesar requested him to be spared, for she desired his beauty. The request was denied, but they peeled off his face skin while he was alive to preserve an image of him. (Midrash Eile Ezkarah) The pain they went through for their looks drawn from zihara ila peeled the husk of this level caused by the sin - allowing for a time to come when it would once again fully manifest.

It is the bones of Joseph that energized the emancipation from Egypt and its conclusion by the splitting of the sea. That first liberation is the source for all following liberations - climaxing in the final redemption. (Gen. 13:19, Sota)

This is part of why one of the two Messiah’s is Mashiach the son of Joseph. Elijah comes with Mashiach the son of David.

Furthermore, Joseph also sinned, having caused his brothers to sell him when he provoked them with his dreams, and because he spoke badly about them to his father. Therefore, this soul had to reincarnate into Rabbi Yishmael son of Elisha the High Priest in order to finally undergo death.

The natural death he died as Joseph did not serve to atone for this.

Know that Adam merited the NRN"Ch from malchut, tiferet, bina and chochma of Atzilut - all four of them at once. Moses merited the da’at of Atzilut. The three forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob merited to chesed, gevura, and tiferet of Atzilut respectively.

This is put specifically here. After having expanded about neshama of Atzilut and its manifestations in the world, the other levels of Atzilut are not to be left out. Also, here some of what is necessary to restore neshama is explained, from this one can draw parallel and figure out what is necessary to draw the rest. It involves following in the ways of the forefathers. "If you do not know, oh most beautiful of woman – go in the footsteps of the shepherds." (Songs 1:8)

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

Footnotes
1.
The Talmud teaches, “The handsomeness of Jacob is like the handsomeness of Adam. ” (Baba Batra) Joseph was like Jacob. (Breishit Raba) Moreover, he was the one to draw Jacob’s light, beauty, and accomplishments into expression. This is the underlying idea behind these revelations about Joseph , as opposed to Jacob.
2.
Elijah also strongly associates with this quality. He was first Pinchas, who was zealous for the brit [covenant] - guarding of yesod and he is known as “the angel of the brit”. (Zohar)
3.
Therefore, anyone who recites “‘And the heavens and earth were finished...’ (Gen. 2:1) (is a faithful witness to above and) is as a partner in creation of heaven and earth.” (Shabbat)
4.
Elijah/Eliyahu equals 52, 2 times YHVH - indicating ability to unite above and below.
5.
The Midrash tells that the wife of Potifar told her friends that she had a problem. She invited them over to see what it was. She showed them Joseph. They were so absorbed by looking at him that they cut their hands with the knife instead of the bread.
6.
Malchut - we call the mouth...” (Tikunei Zohar) This all links with the above about testimony, which is done with the mouth and thereby reveals the lights of truth above in Zeir Anpin down below to malchut.
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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