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Performance of mitzvot fixes specific aspects of the soul

Soul-Potential

Soul-Potential

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Soul-Potential
Performance of mitzvot fixes specific aspects of the soul

A person, the moment he or she is born, has a soul of holiness. But this is not a realized soul. It is, rather, an inactive soul or a soul in potential; the least aspect of the soul. Since it is still small, this aspect of soul is considered as a point which is enclothed within a person's heart, that is to say that it is enclothed within his or her will to receive, which reveals itself chiefly through the heart.

You may be familiar with the concept that whatever applies to the whole of reality applies equally in each individual world and to every particular particle in that world however tiny it may be. So, just as there are five worlds within the whole of reality which correspond to the five sefirot: keter, chochma, bina, tiferet and malchut, so there are five sefirot: keter, chochma, bina, tiferet and malchut within each world. Likewise there are five sefirot in every particle in every world. As we have said, our world is divided up into the inanimate, vegetable, animal and human aspects. These correspond to the four sefirot of chochma, bina, tiferet and malchut, the inanimate corresponding to malchut, the vegetable corresponding to tiferet, the animal corresponding to bina, the speaking corresponding to chochma and the highest root of all of them corresponding to keter. Even without positive intention, the act of doing these mitzvot purifies the will to receive…

However, as we have stated, one individual entity from any of the inanimate, vegetable, animal or human species, also has within it all the four aspects pertaining to the inanimate, the vegetable, the animal and the speaking. So, for example, within any person lie the inanimate, vegetable, animal and speaking aspects which are the four aspects of his or her will to receive, clothing the point of his or her holy soul.

Before the age of thirteen, there is no outer manifestation of this point of the holy soul within the heart. After the age of thirteen, if a person begins to practice Torah and mitzvot, even if this is as yet without any inner intention; that is to say without any degree of love or awareness of serving G‑d, nevertheless, this causes the point of the soul within his or her heart to enlarge and to show its action. Even without positive intention, the act of doing these mitzvot purifies the will to receive for oneself, but only at its first level which is called the inanimate. When he or she has completed all the 613 commandments from the practical aspect…the inanimate aspect of the holy Nefesh becomes a complete spiritual entity…

As he or she purifies the inanimate part of the will to receive, the person constructs the 613 limbs of the point of the soul within the heart, which is the inanimate aspect of the holy Nefesh. When he or she has completed all the 613 commandments from the practical aspect, then all the 613 limbs of the point within the heart which comprise the inanimate aspect of his or her holy Nefesh, are completed. The 248 spiritual organs are built up by performing the 248 positive commandments, and the 365 spiritual sinews are built up by refraining from transgressing the 365 negative commands. Then the inanimate aspect of the holy Nefesh becomes a complete spiritual entity and the Nefesh then ascends and enclothes the sefira of malchut which is in the spiritual world of Asiya. Thus through the assistance of the point of the higher level…the soul is enabled to ascend each time to a higher stage…

All the spiritual units, the inanimate, vegetable, and animal, which are to be found in the world of Asiya that relate to the sefira of malchut of Asiya, help and assist that person's soul-entity of Nefesh that ascends to the sefira of malchut of Asiya according to the measure that the soul (Nefesh) is enlightened to receive them. This enlightenment becomes spiritual nourishment for the Nefesh, which gives it strength to grow and increase in capacity until it can draw towards itself the light of the sefira of malchut of Asiya in all its complete perfection, which then gives its light within the body of the person. This perfect light helps a person to increase his or her work in Torah and mitzvot so that they may go on to receive other levels.

We have already stated that when a person is born, a point source of the light of Nefesh enclothes itself within their will to receive. Similarly here, when he or she has given birth to the spiritual entity which is the Nefesh of holiness, there is born together with it a point source which originates from the stage above. That is to say that there arises a point source from the inactive aspect of the light of Ruach of Asiya, which enclothes itself within the inmost aspect of the entity of Nefesh, in a similar way to that above. The process proceeds in this way throughout all the stages. Whenever one stage is born, the point source of the inactive aspect of the next stage above it is born within it. This makes the connection between the higher stage and the stage below it, and this process continues up to the very highest stages. Thus through the assistance of the point of the higher level, enclothing itself within the lower, the soul is enabled to ascend each time to a higher stage.

[from "In the Shadow of the Ladder", Introduction to the Zohar, paragraphs 43-44, by Mark and Yedidah Cohen]

Mark Cohen ( Ph.D.) and Yedidah (Amanda) Cohen (M.B., B.S.) have translated from Hebrew the "Introduction to Kabbala" by R. Yehudah Leib Ashlag, providing additional explanatory text (www.nehorapress.com). They and their four children are long-time residents of Safed.
Rabbi Yehudah Leib Ashlag (1886-1955) was known as the "Master of the Ladder" from the name (in Hebrew, the "Sulam") of his 21 volume commentary on the Zohar. He also authored a 6 volume explanation of the work of the Ari called 'Talmud Esser Sephirot'.
In the Shadow of the Ladder (Nehora Press) by Mark and Yedidah Cohen
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