In this week's Torah reading, we are taught that someone who intentionally serves idols will be "cut off" from the Jewish people. Literally, the phrase describing this process reads:

"And the soul that does [this] with an uplifted hand…blasphemes G‑d, and that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people. For it has disgraced the word of G‑d and abrogated His commandment; that soul will be cut off, yes, cut off, [as long as] its transgression is within it [i.e. if he does not repent]. (Num. 15:30-31)

The word for "its transgression" in this verse [in Hebrew, "avona"] can also be read as "time-period" [in Hebrew, "ona"], as in the phrase, "he will not diminish her conjugal rights" (Ex. 21:10).

The word "ona" means "time period" or "season", and is also used to mean "conjugal rights" or "frequency of marital relations".

If the soul in question had remained holy and not sinned, it would have joined together with its mate in Paradise….

This means that if the soul in question had remained holy and not sinned, it would have joined together with its mate in Paradise and thereby produced the soul of converts, as is mentioned in the Zohar. (III:167b, 168a)

The marital union of soul-mates is always fertile; if it does not produce physical offspring, it produces good metaphysical "energy" that spreads throughout the world. Sometimes this "offspring" takes the form of souls that eventually convert to Judaism. In the spiritual afterlife, also, soul-mates unite in marital union after midnight; this produces souls of converts.

Souls of converts are also produced by Torah study.

And Torah study is a central occupation of the soul in Paradise. See Shaar HaGilgulim, introduction 34.

But this soul, which performed such a serious sin that it becomes liable to the punishment of excision, is cut off from its mate. Thus, what should have been the "conjugal act" ["ona"] becomes "transgression" ["avon"] and sin, and it is cut off from its mate.

The sense of the verse quoted above thus becomes: "That soul will be cut off [from its mate]; its transgression prevents its coupling [with its mate] from taking place."

This is one type of excision. This type of excision is sometimes given to a person who has not tried to have children, as mentioned in the Zohar. (II:106a)

When the Torah uses the expression, "he shall be cut off", the punishment referred to is called "excision". This may take a number of forms.

Although not marrying and trying to have children is not one of the sins the Torah applies the punishment of excision to, it is stated in the Zohar that someone who did not try to have children in This World is sometimes punished by not being allowed to couple with his soul-mate in the afterlife either.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah and Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.