When you raise up the flames - the seven flames should shine toward the face of the menorah. (Num. 8:2)

A soul is called a flame. The nature of a flame is to soar upward; it strives to unite with its source - the original element of fire. (See Rambam, "Foundations of the Torah", 3:10)

The soul, too, is driven upward - to be consumed in its source. This is its nature. As a son yearns for his father, so the soul yearns for G‑d. Every person is a complete menorah comprised of all seven attributes…

In the souls of the lower worlds, however, this drive is concealed. When these souls descend into the physical world and cloak themselves in a physical body, their vision is obscured. These souls are compared to animals in that they gravitate toward earthliness. By contrast, the souls of the highest world Atzilut, such as the Shepherds and the Princes, retain their heavenward drive even as they exist in the lowest world. Their thirst for the Divine is manifest within them.

Aaron is one of the seven shepherds of Israel whose task it is to nurture the Flock.1 Aaron is commanded to awaken and reveal the yearning and love that lies dormant within the lower souls - to "raise the flames".

"Flames", i.e. souls, are mentioned twice in the above verse: "flames" and "seven flames".

"Seven flames" refers to the seven types of souls:

The soul that serves G‑d with a love like flowing water (chesed);

The soul that serves G‑d with a love like fire (gevura);

The soul that serves G‑d with Torah, the middle column (tiferet);

The soul that serves G‑d with the attribute of victory, to be victorious and overcome challenges in matters of turn from evil and do good (netzach);

The soul that serves G‑d through acknowledgement (hod);

The soul that serves G‑d through exaltedness, as in the verse "His heart was uplifted in the ways of G‑d" (yesod);

The soul that serves G‑d with humility (malchut).

In truth, every person is a complete menorah comprised of all seven attributes. However, each person emphasizes a different aspect of the menorah. It is possible for a person to have only one of his lamps lit and yet not realize that his other lights are out. He imagines that he is bathed in light. (Sichat 13 Tamuz, 5722.)

Space does not allow for an elaboration on all the seven attributes; we will therefore suffice with an elaboration of netzach, victory.

The ten sefirot are divided into three columns: right, left and center, or, "giving", "restraint" and "synthesis". The right side includes chochma, creativity, chesed, kindness, and netzach, victory. These three attributes represent three modes of giving: 1) giving that is motivated by the intellect, i.e. one recognizes the virtue, beauty or awesomeness of a certain thing and so you are inspired to give; 2) giving that is motivated by emotion, i.e. a person loves and therefore gives; and 3) giving that lacks an intellectual or emotional base and is done with a "stubbornness" - despite lack of inspiration. In the final case, the soul's attribute of "giving" has permeated only the realm of action, not the intellect or emotions. There are seven ways to serve G‑d…

This is called netzach, victory, since it is the powerful desire to win and succeed that drives us when all other inspiration is lost. (The last four sefirot in general are called "functional" or "active" sefirot).

One who serves G‑d with netzach is one who may lack inspiration but continues to do what he knows to be right with a stubbornness and a refusal to be dissuaded by seemingly insurmountable odds. (See Likutei Torah on Tazria 21b.)

Two Levels of Soul

The souls are divided in seven only when we define them as servants of G‑d: "I was created to serve my Creator" (end of Talmud Kidushin). When their identity is no more than their role in serving G‑d, there are seven types, since there are seven ways to serve G‑d.

But the soul exists on a higher level, where it is not a means to any other end - even to serve G‑d - aside for itself. This is the soul as it exists with the divine essence, like a child that exists in the brain of the father.

The soul was created to serve its Creator, but as it exists beyond the level of Creation, before it descends to Beriya, it is a part of G‑d and exists for itself. On this level the souls are called "flames" - not "seven flames" - since they are not defined by their respective roles in the divine service.

Yet Aaron is to raise both flames - the "seven flames" and the "flames". This is because the essence of the soul (the nondescript flame) is elevated by the elevation of the soul in its earthly descent. The essence of the soul is revealed and brought to the fore through challenges that the soul encounters in its descent.

Planted in Babylon

In the haftorah of this week's Torah reading (Zachariah 2:14-4:7), we read about the vision of Zachariah, in which he says, "I saw a menorah entirely of gold…this is the word of G‑d to Zerubavel…" (Ibid. 4:6)

The name "Zerubavel" is a contraction of the Hebrew words "zarua b'bavel", which mean "planted in Babylon". This refers to the Jewish people who were exiled in Babylon at the time.

What is the connection between the menorah and "planted in Babylon"? The descent into exile is called planting

The descent into exile is called "planting" because planting is done for the purpose of abundant growth. The produce will far exceed the amount planted. Similarly, the descent into exile is for the purpose of an ascent. It is through the descent into exile and its challenges that the essence of the soul is brought to the fore.

The Jewish people are therefore called "planted in Babylon" in connection with the menorah. This suggests, firstly, that even while they are in exile they are a menorah. Furthermore, the descent into exile is a planting that generates a far greater quantity of produce. Through exile, Babylon, the "flames" of the human menorah - not just the seven flames - are raised to new and unimaginable heights.

Based on Likutei Torah and Sefer Hamaamarim Melukat, 5:295

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.