Rabbi Yossi opened his discourse with the verse, "And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to G‑d" [to beseech G‑d to help him recover from his illness and not die as the prophet had warned him would happen]. (Isaiah 38:2)

A wall represents malchut….

From this verse we learn that one should pray facing a wall. A wall represents malchut, which is a wall in relation to all the other sefirot because they all end in it and go no further. This is another reason why it is so appropriate to pray at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Since one should pray facing a wall, what better wall can there be than the remaining Temple Mount wall?

Come and see. How great is the strength and the authority of the Torah and how elevated is its study in relation to all other endeavors! This is because everyone who strives to understand the Torah has no fear [from those who cause damage] in the spiritual or physical worlds. He has no fear from attack and misfortune that comes in This World because he is at one with the Tree of Life. He eats from it every day [by learning, his soul has nourishment, and he is physically protected by its advice].

This is because the Torah teaches a person to walk down the path of truth. It gives him advice as to how to repent and return to his Master. Even if death has been decreed to him, it and all other bad decrees can be abolished. They can be made to leave him without a trace.

A person should learn Torah day and night….

Thus Hezekiah, a King learned in Torah, was healed in its merit and given an extra 15 years of life, even though the prophet Isaiah had informed him of his impending death.

Because of these reasons a person should learn Torah day and night. He should not turn away from it, as Joshua commands, "This book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth; and you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it." (Joshua 1:8) If one allows no time for the Torah or even separates [temporarily] from her, it is as though he has separated from life itself.

Come and see. It is well advised for a person, when he goes to bed at night, to take upon himself the yoke of Heaven with his full concentration [by saying the Shema prayer]. Furthermore, before he falls asleep he should deposit his Nefesh, passing it over [to the Shechina in malchut of Atzilut], saying the verse "Into Your hand I commit my spirit". (Psalms 31:6)

By doing this, one consciously prepares himself for entering the state of sleep, which is considered 1/60th part of death. Just as before death one should say the Shema, so one should say it before sleep. Note that the English word "dormitory" has two main syllables, "dor", similar to the Aramaic "dar", meaning to live, and "mit", from the Hebrew "met", meaning "dead". You could say that a dormitory is a place where the dead live! In light of our explanation this makes sense because the soul releases itself from the body in the dream state, leaving the body as if it were dead.

This is as we have explained elsewhere [in parashat Bamidbar, Zohar page 119b]. At the time of sleeping the entire world tastes the flavor of death (Berachot 57b) because the Tree of Death prevails over the world.

The sefira of malchut, which is the aspect of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, rules at night. She rules over the forces of darkness that get their strength from her at night, which is the reason the name of the tree changes. Instead of feeding good and evil, it is feeding the forces of darkness.

Then the Holy One Blessed be He comes into the Garden of Eden to delight Himself with the spirits of the tzadikim….

Then every person's spirit goes out [from the body] and rises up [to give account in the spiritual worlds for their actions during the day, and also to refresh and renew themselves spiritually]. The spirits conceal themselves in her [the yesod of malchut], and because they are delivered to her on deposit, they all return to their correct places [rather than to the wrong body!].

To understand the following, it is important to know that the Zohar teaches that one should rise at midnight and pray and study until stopping for the dawn prayer, as is explained below.

Come and see. When the north wind [a manifestation of the gevurot of Imma which chases away the negative forces from the world which been in ascendance up till then] arises at midnight a proclamation is announced.

The herald is the angel Gabriel and the proclamation resounds through the worlds until it reaches the roosters. A rooster is called "gever" in Hebrew, sharing the same root letters as "Gabriel". This explains why roosters crow in the second half of the night, it is to wake up those who study at that time.

Then the Holy One Blessed be He comes into the Garden of Eden to delight Himself with the spirits of the tzadikim. Then all the sons of the Shechina [whose souls come from malchut of Atzilut] and all the sons of the Palace [whose souls come from the world of Beriya] wake up to give praise to the Holy King. Then all of the souls deposited with the Shechina are returned to their owners.

With the rise of dawn, the Shechina and all the sons of Her palace all go to the Holy King….

This is why the Sages say that the most refreshing sleep is before midnight. Rabbi Chaim Vital explains that the "deposits" are returned then because there is no longer a need to guard them from the forces of darkness that have power up until they peak at midnight. Those who go on sleeping, do so because they are not worthy to accompany the Shechina as She manifests Herself in the lower worlds. Their souls are involved with the lower powers of impurity that give them impure dreams generated by their base desires.

Those sons of the Higher Palace stand at their stations. They rise [at midnight] and involve themselves in the praise of Torah [learning in a melodious voice to show their love for the Torah as they strive to understand] and become partners with the Shechina. [Their intention as they learn is to unite Her with Her source in the malchut of Atzilut.] They learn until the day breaks [and then go to pray.]

This shows that ideally one should learn the entire second half of the night without sleeping and then pray at dawn.

With the rise of dawn, the Shechina and all the sons of Her palace [who have been busy elevating Her through their nighttime study] all go to the Holy King and are called "the sons of the King and Queen"….

Those who have busied themselves with the needs of the Shechina merit accompanying her spiritually in her elevation to the world of Atzilut at the time of divine unity at dawn.

The continuation of this article: One Satisfying Unity.

Zohar pg. 260a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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