Now you can appreciate the impact of Adam’s sin, which caused destruction and blemish in all the worlds for all generations. It is based upon what we have said, that according to the greatness of the soul is the extent of the damage.

Adam’s sin caused destruction and blemish in all the worlds for all generations.

Therefore, a 'light' sin by completely righteous and pious people, such as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, is considered as severe as many sins by another person. Thus, one who only possesses nefesh of Asiya can only cause damage to Asiya, since that is as far as his hand can reach. Therefore, he only has to do teshuvah on the level of Asiya, since that is all he damaged.

The example of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai is specific. For one, he is one of the outstanding characters of the grand root of Cain, which is an underlying theme of this whole compilation [Gates of Reincarnation]. Furthermore, an intrinsic quality of this root is to sometimes seem very pious and yet be quite the opposite.1 Also, Rabbi Yochanan was known to be entirely righteous, yet he is reported as having approached death with great trepidation, not being sure if he would thereafter be led to Heaven or to Purgatory. (Berachot 28b) The reason is here explained: According to his towering plateau - even a small defect is considered serious.

According to his towering plateau - even a small defect is considered serious.

What comes out of this is that one must constantly scrutinize his actions. (See Mesilot Yesharim, 'Zehirut')

If ascending causes you to be put under a microscope and subject to rigid standards (Yevamot 121b), why try at all?! The answer is that the benefits of the ascent are well worth it. The higher you go, the higher state of consciousness you achieve.

We have already spoken about how the four letters of Havayah divide into four worlds ABY"A, and that each letter divides again. The letter yud corresponds to Atzilut and [links] to the expansion of YHVH that equals 72 [YVD HY VYV HY]. The letter hei corresponds to Beriya and [aligns with the expansion that] equals 63 [YVD HY VAV HY]. The vav corresponds to Yetzira and [associates with the expansion that] equals 45 [YVD HA VAV HA]. The [final] hei corresponds to Asiya and [connects to the expansion that] equals 52 [YVD HH VV HH].

G‑d enlivens everything by way of His Names.

"G‑d and His Name are One" (Zachariah 14:9). "And You enliven them all" (Hagiga). G‑d enlivens everything by way of His Names. YHVH is the central Name. It literally means ‘Existence Giver’. Its varied expansions are the batteries for all the worlds. And it does not stop at this. Each detail within each world derives its life-force from the expansions. In short - from the most colossal macrocosmic to the most infinitesimal microcosmic - all of reality derives its actuality from the Infinite Light clothed in the worlds via the medium2 of the Names. The light dons the Names and is one with them. (Tanya)

Therefore, by calling God through them His light is drawn and manifest to a person. Just as by calling a person his attention is drawn. (Likutei Moharan 56:3)

The worlds dividing out into YHVH, with all of their details, is aligned according to the root archetype source format of the supernal Divine Chariot. It has four sides, with four angels flanking them. "Each angel has four-faces, each face has four wings3 unto itself." (Ezekiel 1:6) So the Names branch out, expand, and cascade to being a root above for every single bit of reality below. This means that whatever anyone is doing at any given moment in any place in any situation is all sourced in complex combinations of the Divine Name infrastructure. (Likutei Moharan 6, end)

To better grasp the idea of how and what Names do what:

Different pies have different filling. Even if they have the same base, the taste and effect vary according to the filling. So the grand intrinsic Name YHVH is the basis of existence. Its manifestation in each part of existence varies according to how it is ‘filled’, otherwise called its expansions.

Yud-filling’ is quite delicious and is the highest of expansions.

Yud-filling’ is quite delicious and is the highest of expansions. Yud was used to create the world-to-come because of its lofty root. It so is always used for filling of the expansion that enlivens the highest of worlds/levels. Aleph is next in line. Last is hei. (Shaaar HaKavanot Pesach)

The Name YVD HY VYV HY-A"B/72 is filled with yud's and so enlivens the highest world Atzilut. Beriya the world beneath is powered by YVD HY VAV HY-S"G/63. Two of its letters are filled with yud, but one is filled with aleph, denoting a descent in the intensity of Divinity from the realm above it. Yetzira is the next world down and is energized by YVD HA VAV HA-M"H/45. All its letters feature aleph-filling. Last on the rung is Asiya, which fueled by YVD HH VV HH-B"N/52 – hei's.

In every case, there are filling letters that are constantly the same, but the quality of the name is determined by the ones that are subject to change. (Eitz Chayim, Shaar Otzrot Chaim)

But if the very base of the pie is changed, all the more so is it different. There are infinite Names through which the Divine light expresses and runs the world. They all draw from the basic theme of YHVH/Existence-Giver, but each with its own nuance. For example, the Name EHYH. It means "I will be" and is the special existence-giving power of self-renewal. (Zohar, Likutei Moharan 6) Meditating on it draws on the soul revitalization, rejuvenation, and the power to change…

Therefore if a person damages all four worlds it is as if he damages the great Name! This is the secret of the verse, "They went out and saw the carcasses of those who sinned in Me" (Isaiah 66:24). That is literally against My name - each one according to the level of his soul, as explained.

Picturing the letters can stir to take inventory and repair.

Elsewhere, the Ari explains that when one meditates on YHVH and has a problem in depicting the Name, it is a sign that he has caused defect in that letter by committing a sin that damaged that level. (Etz Chayim, Shaar Ruach Hakodesh) It so serves as a type of check to trouble-shoot spiritual defects. All sins affect all of the letters, but each one is primarily rooted in one of letters. Picturing the letters can stir to take inventory and repair.

"His Name partners with our name." (Midrash) "‘Living-soul’ is its name" (Gen. 2:19). One receives their allotted portion of manifest Divinity and life-force by way of his name. According to how one affects God’s names by his actions, so is his own name a receptacle for the flow from above.

Hence, when a person does teshuvah he rectifies His great name - all four letters. This is the secret of the ‘four divisions of atonement’ and the teshuvah for four types of sins. For four [types of] sins cause damage to the four letters of Havayah, and the four kinds of teshuvah and atonement rectify the four letters of Havayah.

As mentioned, any given mistake causes damage in the Names. But there are certain transgressions that are primary and as if roots for all the others that disturb a letter.

All types of forgiveness come from the four grand letters. They divide and group in the four progressive categories that come from them. Learning their workings helps provide guidelines and a path of self-rectification.

What comes out is that one can fix everything. Revelation of the Name is then able to manifest and shine to the self. From this comes expanded consciousness. (Likutei Moharan II 67)

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]