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Kabbalah teaches that each soul has a special mitzvah in which to excel.

Unique Mitzvah for Each Soul Root

Unique Mitzvah for Each Soul Root

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Eleven, Section 12

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Unique Mitzvah for Each Soul Root
Kabbalah teaches that each soul has a special mitzvah in which to excel.

Some parts of soul are rectified by the performance of all 613 mitzvot, and some parts are rectified by the mitzvot pertaining to one's soul Root, and to explain this the "Meditation on the Interconnections and Interweaving of the Worlds" will be reviewed.

The Ari will now revert to the topic that was left off at the end of Section 10. He wrote that there are particular mitzvot pertaining to every limb, and a person is more responsible for the particular mitzvot pertaining to the limb that is his Root than he is for all of the other 613 mitzvot. We saw there that this statement of the Holy Ari gave Rabbi Chaim difficulty because everyone is responsible to fulfill all the 613 mitzvot. Therefore, Rabbi Chaim asked, "What is unique about the particular mitzvot of the Root? "

Although there are particular mitzvot pertaining to each limb, all the 613 mitzvot must be completed….

He did not accept there the easy answer of extra, special, added responsibility for the particular mitzvot of the Root. Now, we will see that he wants to connect this statement of the Holy Ari with the introductory teaching that we learned in 1:4, see there.

Nevertheless, the answer that he posits here is very difficult to understand. The truth is that he wants to somewhat "hide, even while he is revealing" a very important teaching, as we shall see, with the help of G‑d. In order to make sense of the words we will have recourse to the commentary of Benei Aharon, which is based upon the "Meditation on the Interconnections and Interweaving of the Worlds."

It is not sufficient for a person to rectify the particular place where his soul is connected above. He must rectify all the parts of Asiya and Yetzira, etc.

As we have learned many times throughout the Gate of Reincarnations, it is not possible for a person to receive Ruach from Yetzira until he rectifies all of the Nefesh from Asiya. In the same way he cannot receive Neshama until all of Ruach is rectified. In order to rectify each one of these levels of soul in its entirety he must do all the 613 mitzvot. Because of this, Rabbi Chaim Vital seemingly did not understand the teaching of the Holy Ari that a person has to fulfill the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root of his soul, and these are more relevant to him than the other 613 mitzvot.

This helps to explain what I wrote here.

This helps to explain the contradiction between what he wrote in the previous section and the rule that a person has to rectify all the parts of Asiya, etc.

Although there are particular mitzvot pertaining to each limb, all the 613 mitzvot must be completed. It seems to me now that the explanation is in a different way, as follows.

Before we go on to translate and explain the new explanation given by Rabbi Chaim Vital, it will be worthwhile to briefly review the "Meditation on the Interconnections and Interweaving of the Worlds." Afterwards, we will refer to the commentary of the Benei Aharon on this section and translate some of it:

On the Interconnections and Interweaving of the Worlds

In the "minute detail" system of the Rashash (Rabbi Shalom Sharabi) there are meditations on this deep teaching in three and even four dimensions, but I will start with a prosaic, two dimensional description of it, which my teacher often used:

  • There is a farmer who has 4 cucumbers.
  • There is a farmer who has 4 tomatoes.
  • There is a farmer who has 4 onions.
  • There is a farmer who has 4 stalks of lettuce.

They can each eat their own produce to their hearts' content. But that is boring. They want variety. They want a salad. What do they do? The one who has cucumbers gives…

  • One to the tomato man
  • One to the onion man
  • One to the lettuce man.

The one who has tomatoes gives…

  • One to the cucumber man
  • One to the onion man
  • One to the lettuce man.

The one who has onions gives…

  • One to the cucumber man
  • One to the tomato man
  • One to the lettuce man.

The one who has lettuce gives…

  • One stalk to the cucumber man
  • One stalk to the tomato man
  • One stalk to the onion man.

Thus, each one of them has a tasty salad. Each one has one cucumber, one tomato, one onion and one stalk of lettuce.

It is hard to believe that such a prosaic example can contain such an important secret, but obviously, a profound teaching about social cohesion, unity and love, is implied here.

The same concept is depicted in Kabbalistic terms by the following Diagram 11:12 - 1.

With the help of G‑d we will now translate and explain the words of the text. From here to the end of the section it will be worthwhile for the student to refer to Diagram 11:12 - 2 below.

If a person's Nefesh is, for example, from Nukva of Asiya.

Since the Ari is talking about Nefesh, this place in the diagram below is the bottom row - Nefesh of Asiya. The place, Nukva of Asiya, is the lowest line of that row, marked in Diagram 11:12 - 2 "Nf."

It is not enough for him to rectify only this section in order to enable Ruach from Nukva of Yetzira to enter within him.

It is not enough for him to rectify the row, Nf of Nefesh of Asiya, in order to ascend to the rectification of Nf of Ruach from Yetzira. Indeed, this is what we might have thought after reviewing Gate of Reincarnations, Chapter 1:4. Now, the Ari is revealing new information.

He will have to rectify all the parts of Nefesh that are from his portion of Asiya: the Nefesh from Malchut of Zeir Anpin that is from Asiya, for example, and the Malchut of Imma, Abba and Arich of Asiya.

In other words, he will have to rectify the Malchut, or Nf, of all the cells on the bottom row:

the Nf of Ruach of Yetzira on the bottom row, Nefesh from Asiya,

the Nf of Neshama of Beriya on the bottom row, Nefesh from Asiya,

the Nf of Chaya of Atzilut on the bottom row, Nefesh from Asiya.

Only then will he be ready to ascend to Ruach (the second row) because only then will he have finished his Nefesh.

All these are parts of his entire Nefesh. They are the NRNCh"Y of Asiya, and all together they are called one whole Nefesh from Asiya.

Then he can begin to acquire his portion of the Nefesh that is within Ruach of Asiya.

Then he can begin to acquire Ruach. In this example he is from the aspect of Nukveh. Therefore, he will rectify all the Nf places in the cells of the second row.

The explanation of the Benei Aharon:

In Asiya there is the NRNCh"Y of Nefesh of itself (i.e. NRNCh"Y of Nefesh of Nefesh) and they are external to everything. Ensconced within them is the NRNCh"Y of Yetzira. Ensconced within them is the NRNCh"Y of Beriya, and within them is the NRNCh"Y of Atzilut.

The Nefesh of Nefesh itself is acquired by the performance of all the 613 mitzvot….

There are those that acquire only the NRNCh"Y from Asiya, which are external to everything. There are those that enter further within and acquire the NRNCh"Y of Yetzira that is within Asiya. There are those that enter further within and acquire the NRNCh"Y of Beriya that is within Yetzira that is within Asiya. There are those that enter all the way within and acquire the NRNCh"Y of Atzilut that is within the Beriya that is within Yetzira that is within Asiya.

All these levels that are acquired are all called Nefesh from Asiya, even the Atzilut that is ensconced there. It is not the real Atzilut because the real Atzilut cannot come to a person until he completes the real NR"N from Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya.

Therefore, there is the Ruach of Yetzira that is ensconced within Asiya, and there is the real Ruach from Yetzira.

Rabbi Chaim Vital is talking about the Ruach of Yetzira that is ensconced within Asiya.

[It is acquired by the particular mitzvot that pertain to the limb that is his Root.]

The Holy Ari is dealing with the real Ruach that is from Yetzira. (In our diagram it is the second cell on the second row, outlined in black.) It is only acquired when all the levels of Nefesh are complete by accomplishment of all the 613 mitzvot.

[Thus, the contradiction has been solved, and it is to be understood in the following way: The Ruach, Neshama and Chaya of the Nefesh are acquired by performance of the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root. The Nefesh of Nefesh itself is acquired by the performance of all the 613 mitzvot.

It is the same with the next level of Ruach. The Ruach of Ruach is acquired by the performance of all the 613 mitzvot. The Nefesh and Neshama and Chaya of Ruach are acquired by performance of the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root.

The NRNCh"Y of Neshama of Neshama is acquired by doing all the 613 mitzvot. The Nefesh, Ruach and Chaya of Neshama are acquired by doing the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root. And it is the same with Chaya and Yechida.]

In conclusion…

In conclusion, both statements are true. Some parts of the soul are rectified only by performance of all the 613 mitzvot. These are the Nefesh of Nefesh from Asiya, the Ruach of Ruach from Yetzira, the Neshama of Neshama from Beriya and the Chaya (and Yechida) of Chaya (and Yechida) from Atzilut.

In addition, each person rectifies one of the NRNCh"Y aspects of each of these places, but the rectification of each place is accomplished only through performance of all the 613 mitzvot.

However, there are other parts of the soul that are rectified through performance of the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root of the soul. These are the RNCh"Y of Nefesh, the Nefesh and NCh"Y of Ruach, the N"R and Ch"Y of Neshama, etc.

It can also be seen that in essence this explanation is the same as the simple, easy explanation that Rabbi Chaim Vital seemingly rejected at first. In other words, everyone must fulfill all the 613 mitzvot, but there are some mitzvot for which each person has extra, special, added responsibility. These are the particular mitzvot pertaining to the Root of the soul of that person.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

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.
Shabtai Teicher, a descendant of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Reshab, was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and settled in Jerusalem in 1970. He studied for over 7 years with one of the outstanding and renowned kabbalists of our generation, Rabbi Mordechai Attieh, and also studied deeply in various other fields of Jewish scholarship. He was a specialist in Lurianic Kabbala, edited and annotated the first eleven chapters of our English rendition of "Shaar HaGilgulim," and completed his manuscripts for "Zohar: Old Man in the Sea," in both Hebrew and English, shortly before his unfortunate passing in November 2009.
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