This second verse of this week's Torah reading deals with the offering a woman brings if she gives birth to a male child. The exact wording, however, is not as straight forward. The verse states: "A woman, who because she gives seed first, and gives birth to a male child; then she shall be impure seven days." (Lev. 12:2) The Zohar uses this verse as a starting point to expound on the mysteries of conception, of male and female and the shadow image that a person has in the spiritual dimension.

Come and see. At the hour when the soul descends [from the treasury of souls in malchut of Atzilut] to enter into this world [dressed in the body of a person] she first descends to the Garden of Eden, which is [connected with] this world. She sees the honor of the spirits of the righteous that stand, row upon row, [and sees the extent of their reward]. Next, she goes to Gehinom to see the [punishment of] the wicked, who yell "Voi, voi!" ["Why, why?!"], and no mercy is shown to them. At each place she witnesses the evidence [of reward for each mitzvah and punishment for each sin], and this holy shadow stands over her until she issues forth in this world.

The spiritual effect of the pain of childbirth … takes time to heal…

The body grows in the shape of this shadow that acts like a sieve for the light of the Neshama to shine through to the person with each mitzvah that they do. Sinning causes the darkening of the shadow of the soul in a person by blocking the holes in this sieve. It is interesting to note that in Hebrew the word for block, "atum", is connected with the word impure, "tamei". Impurity is thus a spiritual concept explaining the effect of one's deeds on their spiritual shadow. Thus a woman who has given birth is not impure in the English sense of the word. It is more that the spiritual effect of the pain of childbirth generates an effect that takes time to heal.

When [the body] issues forth into the world this shadow is immediately present with it and participates with it, and they grow together. This is as said: "Surely every man walks in his shadow" (Psalms 39:7). All the days of the life of a person are present in this shadow.

The Arizal explains that the soul is divided into different aspects that each descend to this world to accomplish rectification. The number of sparks of holiness that require rectification relate to the number of days of a person's life. The mitzvot that are performed each day rectify that spark. If no mitzvah is performed on that day, the holy spark of that day is blemished, and if the person does not repent for having caused this blemish, then the soul has to be reincarnated again to fix those days.

This is as is written, "For we are as [though born] yesterday, and know nothing [about how long we will live], because our days on earth are a shadow." (Job 8:9) And we don't know how long we will be in this world because the days of our life depend on this shadow.

People don't understand…how exalted are the works of the Holy One….

From the day that a woman becomes pregnant until the day she gives birth, people don't understand how wondrous and how exalted are the works of the Holy One Blessed be He [in the formation and growth of the fetus], as is written, "O Lord, how numerous are your works! You have made them all in Your wisdom" (Psalms 104:24).

Come and see. All souls that are in the world include both male and female.

The seed of light that establishes the soul comes from chesed and gevura of daat. Chesed is the male aspect and gevura is the female aspect. The souls also issue from the union of Zeir Anpin with Malchut, and these are also male and female counterparts in the spiritual world.

And when the souls issue forth [from the treasury of souls in malchut], they emerge as male and female, and after [they have descended to the physical world] each separates and goes its own way.

They join together as one unit in everything, in spirit and in body….

[The male part manifests in a male body and the female part in a female body]. If a person merits [through behavior worthy of his soul] they join together [again] as one unit. His wife is his true soul mate [meaning they actually are the male and female aspects of the one soul]. They join together as one unit in everything, in spirit and in body.

This is as is written, "And G‑d said, 'Let the earth bring forth a live soul in its type'." (Gen. 1:24) What does "in its type" mean? This is the spirit of that person that came into his soul mate who is of the same type as he is. And what is "the earth"? This is as in the verse, "My essence was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and finely wrought in the depths of the earth." (Psalms 139:15). And this we have explained.

King David is saying that his body was designed and woven in a lowly place in the lower part of his mother, which is the physical manifestation of the yesod of malchut, which is also called "earth", in Hebrew "aretz". The word "aretz" is related to the word "ratzon", meaning "desire", and signifies the desire that Zeir Anpin has to unify with malchut.

The [soul] certainly issues forth from "the earth" [malchut] because it is from her that it comes out in this world.

This is the source of the desire motivating the search for spiritual growth in man.

Zohar, parashat Tazria p.43a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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