According to this, you can also understand another well known concept of our rabbis: ruchot or neshamot of the righteous are infused into a person, in accord with the esoteric principle called “ibur,” to assist a person in his service of G‑d.
The concept of ibur here is not the same concept that was mentioned earlier in Section Five, although the nomenclature is the same. Literally, ibur refers to the embryo during the state of pregnancy. In this case, it refers to the “impregnation” of a person with the soul of a tzadik, which descends into the soul of a living person to assist the latter in his spiritual devotions.
The Talmud informs us that someone who comes to purify himself is assisted from On High
As is written in Midrash Ne’elam, [still] in handwritten manuscript [form], concerning the statement that “Someone who comes to purify himself, they help him.”
The Midrash Ne’elam is one of the books included in the holy Zohar. The Talmud (Shabbat 104a) informs us that someone who comes to purify himself is assisted from On High. The Midrash Ne’elam now explains this statement according to Rebbe Nathan.
Rebbe Nathan said: The souls of the righteous come and help him.
This is the type of heavenly assistance that may be granted. The soul of a tzadik will descend and become impregnated within the soul of a person who sets out to purify himself. [It is, also, a form of Divine inspiration - Ed.] Similar sources are found elsewhere in the holy writings.
The soul of Rav Hamnuna Sabba appeared in the form of simple workman transporting merchandise on a donkey
The same is found in the Introduction to the Zohar, on Genesis, where Rav Hamnuna Sabba came to Rebbe Elazar and Rebbe Abba in the appearance of a donkey loader, etc.
That is, the soul of Rav Hamnuna Sabba appeared to Rebbe Elazar and Rebbe Aba in the form of simple workman who transports merchandise on a donkey, in order to reveal to them secrets of the Zohar.
Undoubtedly, the ruchot and neshamot of tzadikim are “hidden away” and “bound up” with the “Bundle of Life”, each in his respective root, and G‑d does not cause them to descend at all. However, what descends are the ruchot that remained behind at each level of Yetzira, and which did not ascend, as we have spoken about.
As the righteous person ascended from level to level in the World of Yetzira, he left behind previous levels of ruach as he received new ones in their place. The levels of ruach that were no longer used became available to descend to help others in need of Divine assistance in their service of G‑d.
It is these that descend and enter other people to help them. However, the highest level of ruach that the righteous person acquired as a result of his deeds is bound up forever with the “Bundle of Life” [after he dies], and it does not move from there. This is true concerning the [levels of] neshama, chaya, and yechida as well.
Asiya is the lowest of the worlds, in proximity to the kelipot, and in constant danger of attack by them.
When each level of Asiya was completed, the perfected level of nefesh (from Asiya) itself ascended to the next level (i.e., to the same aspect of the soul-root on the next level). In this way all the completed levels of Asiya ascend to the highest place in Asiya, the keter of Asiya (albeit, in accord with the aspect of the original soul-root).
In the higher worlds of Yetzira, Beriya, etc., the situation is different. There, each completed level of soul remains in its place.
The reason for this difference was also explained. Asiya is the lowest of the worlds. Consequently, it is in proximity to the kelipot, and in constant danger of attack by them. Therefore, each completed level of soul ascends to a higher level in order to distance it as much as possible from the kelipot. In the higher worlds, however, there is no such danger. Therefore, each completed level of soul may remain in its place.
Based on this difference between Asiya and the higher worlds, we digressed in this section to learn something about the concept of ibur. Since there was an ascent from level to level in the world of Yetzira, the lower levels of soul that were completed there and remained in place, are now available to descend to impregnate the souls of other people. This infusion, or ibur, takes place in order to assist these people in their divine service.
The text now returns to discuss another difference between Asiya and the higher worlds of Yetzira, Beria, etc.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]