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This is the secret of the children's mocking, who said to Elisha, "Go up, baldhead!"

"On To Elisha"

"On To Elisha"

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Thirty-Two, Section 5


Elisha was from the root of Enoch called Matatron, from the aspect of neshama of Atzilut which is called the zehira ila’a of Adam. Therefore, [in order to complete his soul spread of all levels - nefesh/ruach/neshama of Atzilut] he needed to take the nefesh of Nadab and Abihu, which was the nefesh of the zehira ila’a of Adam, which was in Elijah. Since Elijah merited the ruach of the Zehira Ila’a as mentioned before, he therefore said, "your ruach be mine".

Hinted in "b’ruch’cha [your spirit]" is what we explained (Zohar III 56b) that though both the nefesh and ruach of Abihu were from the root of Cain, whereas the nefesh of Nadab was from another root, making only his ruach from the root of Cain. Thus, since only his ruach was from Cain he said, "b’ruch’cha [meaning: your ruach (and not nefesh)]".

So his name is Elisha. For with respect to Cain it says, "to Cain and his meal-offering He did not pay attention" (Gen. 4:5) Since he rectified Cain he is called Elisha - as if to say, "Li [Hebrew for 'to me'] sha’ah" [Hebrew for 'pay attention', his name then meaning] "to me G‑d did pay attention" whereas to Cain He did not, before his tikun.

Here the Ari Zl. touches upon the essential issue of the Cain root. The Torah is not a history book and when it relates an account, the points outlined are all meant to teach foundational ideas about the scenario. Cain’s offering was not accepted. He became discouraged. God warned him not to fall. He still went on to murder Abel.

...a person should always work to keep his spirits up.

A central theme of these chapters is to explain how the different parts of Cain’s mistakes were fixed. They all stem from discouragement. The starting point of it is good - a desire to find favor in G‑d’s eyes. A tikun must be made for what ensues - a falling of the heart if not.1 Therefore, a person should always work to keep his spirits up. "The spirit of a man sustains his ailment" (Hagiga) - this is true even physically. How much more so in regards to soul issues! Rabbi Nachman emphasized that no matter what, one should never give up. (Likutei Moharan) No matter what a person did/does and to where they might have strayed and fallen - there is always hope. "For no outcast shall be pushed away from You" (II Samuel 14:14) G‑d really loves each soul very much and desires for it to come back to Him. He sometimes shows a distancing in order to awaken the person to try harder, etc. One must not pay attention to the outward pushing away - only plow on to do teshuvah in all circumstances - no matter what.

Elisha trailblazed a major milestone step in this tikun. He opened a path to the world in which the Cain root can say, "Li sha’a [to me He shows favor/attention]": I know that G‑d really loves me and wants me to return to Him. That being the case, I will plow through whatever obstacles He sees fit to place before me and come back.

I already alluded earlier that Pinchas is called Elijah to indicate that the ibur of Nadab and Abihu, which came from Cain, was rectified by him. Therefore, the three letters ELY of Elijah are also in Elisha - indicating that Elisha also rectified these three letters like Elijah.

These letters form Eili - my L-rd, as in "This is Eili [my L-rd] and I will glorify Him ." (Ex. 15:2) This means Divinity to me is fixing the defect of Nadab/Abihu that draw too much G‑dliness and caused it to depart from the self.

ELY is gematria 41, which equals EM/eim [mother] - bina/upper Shechinah/the maternal aspect of the sefirot. Just as a mother takes care of and nurtures the child, so does G‑d tend to the soul and its needs.2 This level of closeness was what Nadab/Abihu wanted to draw. Elijah/Elisha fixed their improper drawing and afforded the world access to it.

This is in line with Nadab and Abihu's deaths when the Mishkan [Tabernacle] was being consecrated. Rashi explains that the souls of Nadab/Abihu were taken to the heavens as part of the spiritual inauguration. In order to draw down the intense level of Shechinah that rested in the Mishkan, a tremendous awakening from below had to be stirred up. Only the greatest souls were powerful enough to do this. And so Moses remarked to his brother Aaron that he had thought one of them would be taken for the task. Seeing that Aaron’s sons were taken shows that they were greater. (Lev. 10:3, Rashi) The Shechinah is the personification of the Divine maternal aspect that looks after the souls. Elijah/Elisha fully fixed what Nadab/Abihu tried to do, and so they share the letters ELI = EM.

...they made an earth-shattering tikun that lasts for all generations to the end of time.

What comes out is that Nadab/Abihu were only trying to do good - and they ended up doing good. The establishment of the Mishkan, the forerunner of the Holy Temple/center of Divinity to the universe, was all drawn down through them. Relative to themselves, they tried for too much and were burned. Relative to the world, they made an earth-shattering tikun that lasts for all generations to the end of time. Elijah/Elisha only had to perfect what they did.

This is the secret of the children's mocking, who said to him [Elisha], "Go up, baldhead [in Hebrew, 'kereach', the same letters as Korach]! Go up, baldhead!" (Kings II 2:23) For Korach son of Yitzhar was the ruach of Cain from the side of evil, which is why he went down to Shaol alive. (Num. 16:30) The children wanted to insult and curse him, as if to say, "Korach went down to Shaol and needs to ascend - if you come from the root of Cain, how can you ascend?"

The most difficult task is to fix the Cain root. Since the final redemption depends upon it, it must happen. However, those that are involved in it have to undergo the greatest hardships.

Elijah, the teacher and soul-root of Elisha, was the diametrical opposite of Korach. He was punished unnaturally and descended alive to the pit. Elijah miraculously ascended alive to heaven!

Korach tried to usurp Moses. It was a lack of faith in Moses. He said "the entire congregation is holy, and G‑d is in there midst..." (Num. 16:3) He seemed to be preaching democracy. As mentioned, Korach was trying to bring a high level into this world prematurely. Everyone is equal. This arrangement is rooted in Korach’s source - the world of Tohu. There, each of the sefirot receives the light of Ein Sof directly, without coming on to each other. This order was followed by the world of Tikun. A hierarchy was set up in which the sefirot receive by means of an inter-related system.

Presently, the world needs to be run by the Tikun order; through this, it will reach a state of being ready to receive the superior lights of Tohu. Until that time, just as the sefirot receive from each other, so it is by man below. This is the root of the teacher/student, leader/people order. Korach tried to change this and make everyone equal - before it would be productive.

On the other hand, Elisha from the Korach root was the classic student. As mentioned, he is the root-model and exemplification of the highest goal of every student - to receive a double portion of his teacher’s spirit. Thus, he fixed the Korach root. This itself is the secret of why he was then attacked by those bad children. When something is finally being fully fixed, the sitra achra is then most concerned about trying to thwart it.3

They also were hinting that just as Korach ben Yitzhar was shaved by Moses [As were all the Levites in their inauguration (Num. 8:7)], and was thus bald of any hair, so too was Elisha bald of his hair, since the root of his soul was connected to Korach. This is what caused the ibur of Nadab and Abihu after that, for they too were from the root of the soul of Korach. Furthermore, just as Moses used the forty-two letter name to kill the Egyptian (Ex. 2:12) - who was from the nefesh of Cain from the side of evil - so too did Elisha mention the forty-two letter name and kill these forty-two children, as the Zohar states.4

The forty-two letter name fixes the shattering of the vessels...

Moses saw that the part of Cain that killed Abel was in that Egyptian. He also saw that it was completely bad, and no good would come out of it. Because of this he killed him. The same applies to Elisha with these children, who were from the evil of Cain. The forty-two letter name fixes the shattering of the vessels, from which comes the bad of Cain, and is so fitting to use to destroy this negative element.

"And they were both naked - and they were not ashamed." (Gen. 2:25) Hairs are constrictions/garments for thoughts and ideas. (Likutei Moharan 11) The secret of baldness is a lack of constriction. Before the sin, it was possible to perceive the Divine light directly. Afterwards, it is only possible through constrictions. As said, this was the mistake of Korach - to attempt to restore the world to this state before it was ready.5

The arrangement of the world of Tikun has each level as if clothed in the level beneath it. The step lower finds the light of the higher level toned done through its cloths. This is also the concept of hair. Korach, who rebelled against this system of hierarchy and gradation, therefore was bald. Elisha incorporated the good aspect of what Korach was trying to do and so was somewhat bald.6 Through his nullification and humility, he prepared the world for the final state and struck a proper balance between the two approaches that could be received in his time.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]

This dynamic itself comes from the Tohu root. It starts out with much light - desire to do G‑d’s will. By nature, one aspires to too much light – attaining a level above their reach. The result is a shattering of the vessel - discouragement. This brings the sitra achra over and the person goes on to make mistakes and destroy.
One must nip it in the bud by self-fortification and never allow discouragement and depression to cross the heart.
Malchut, the lower Shechinah, is concerned with the physical needs of people.
For this reason, when a person sees things seeming to go wrong, this could be because he is on the verge of a breakthrough. Or it may be because he has just attained a high level. (Likutei Moharan)
Elisha saw that the souls of these children were from a very evil place. He killed them for their own tikun and for the sake of the world.
Esau, on the other hand, was “a hairy man” (Gen. 27:11) - from too much constriction. This gave him extreme din tendencies.
Even though all of the Levites were completely shaved by their inauguration ceremony, afterwards they could grow their hair. Korach kept himself bald all the time.
Levites are from the left side of din. (Zohar III) The service of the Temple is designed to draw chesed in the world. It specifically requires the Levite/din element in order to do its thing - accomplish a sweetening of din. This is the reason why the Levites sing in the Temple. The best music comes out of troubles; the greatest chesed comes out of sweetened judgment. In order to be able to do this, the Levites had to first be shaved of all hair/din. This opened for them a path to in their service to clear away din and ameliorate it.
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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