This week's Torah portion includes three words which have been much discussed in Judaism in general and in Jewish mysticism in particular: "Do not lie". While this is understood to mean we must be honest in day to day activities, on a broader context, it can also refer to our perception of this reality.

The Rebbe Rayatz in Likutei Diburim teaches that the descent of the soul into the body begins in the "Repository of Souls" - well above the spiritual realm known as the "Garden of Eden", in the heavenly spheres. From the Repository of Souls the soul is escorted via the Garden of Eden, and it is there that it first learns what the physical world is.

In the physical world, a person is presented with the choice of which way he or she will go….

What does it see in the Garden of Eden? It sees the souls of the righteous and how each one is in his own chamber; the genius Talmudic scholars, from the period after the redaction of the Talmud and the righteous of each generation, each one surrounded by his students.

From the Garden of Eden, the soul is escorted again via the environs of Purgatory. There it is shown the punishment of the evildoers. It is now, after they have seen the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked, that they are informed that in the physical world, a person is presented with the choice of which way he or she will go.

Physicality lies because it appears to be the source….

It is very easy to understand the discomfort of the soul, with its leaving the Repository of Souls and its arrival in this wild world of flesh, known as the "World of Lies". Why is it called that? Because everything in this material plane is actually a lie. Physicality lies because it appears to be the source for all corporeality, when in fact it conceals the spiritual source of the life-force that G‑d grants Creation. People can lie, for no one knows what is in another person's heart. Each person carries the secrets of his inner faults and failing, putting on appearances so that no one should discover those secrets. How bitter for the soul is its descent from the World of Truth to the World of Lies.

A ritual slaughterer once came to Rabbi Yisroel of Salant to discuss his plan to stop being a butcher because he was afraid that he might accidentally err in his slaughter, and thus be responsible for another Jew's sin of eating non-kosher meat. Rabbi Salant asked him what he would do. The man answered that he would open a store and do business. Rabbi Salant responded, "You are concerned with ritual slaughter, which has only one prohibition, that of erring in the slaughter and making an animal un-kosher. How much more so do you have to be wary of business, that involves many many prohibitions: Do not steal, do not lie, do not use measuring weights falsely and more and more!" (From Tenuot HaMusar)

Each person is required to serve in This World according to his character and abilities….

A sinner who was also a robber asked a wise man for advice how to repent. He felt he could not take on all of the commandments, so he asked the wise man for an easier way. The wise man suggested that he take on one commandment but do it properly. The robber agreed. The wise man said to take upon himself to always tell the truth. After a time, the robber's resolve weakened, and he set off to rob someone. On the way he met an acquaintance who asked where he was going. Remembering that he took on to always tell the truth, he told him. Then, the same thing happened again. Right away he thought, those two will be witnesses and get me killed! Because of this, he restrained himself and never stole again. (Sanhedrin 92 and the Maharsha)

Each person is required to serve in This World according to his character and abilities. A person who is able to dive for pearls or polish diamonds and instead bakes bread (see how this applies to one's spiritual work as well), even if the work he is doing is crucially important, nevertheless, it is considered for him a sin. (Hayom Yom) We should not deceive ourselves as to our real talents and purpose in life.

The Kotsker Rebbe told his followers that everything in the world can wait, except for truth. If you wait with truth, the truth changes and becomes a lie!

Shabbat Shalom! Shaul

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