This 3rd and final installment continues the passage presented in the second installment: "Musical Works By Moses" in which the Arizal, discussing verse 3 in the above passage ("give greatness to our G‑d"), noted how G‑d created the world such that when we submit to G‑d's will, we "enable" Him to accomplish His purpose in this world. In this sense, we "strengthen" G‑d, so to speak.

How is it possible for mortal man to "give strength to his King"? (Samuel I 2:10)

We will answer this by first discussing the heretics' question: why does the Torah quote G‑d as saying "Let us make man" (Gen. 1:26) in the plural, instead of "I shall make man," inasmuch as He alone, may He be blessed, is the Creator. (see Bereishit Raba 8:8) As it is written [in this parasha], "See, now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me." (Deut. 32:19)

As recounted in the Midrash, when Moses was writing this passage, he asked G‑d why He phrased it in such a way as to allow a heretic to "prove" plurality in the G‑d-head, G‑d forbid. G‑d replied, "Write, and whoever wishes to err may err," for G‑d wanted to teach us a lesson by "consulting" with the other forces of Creation, namely, that a great person should consider the opinion of his inferiors when he is about to do something. Here, the Arizal gives the mystical reason for this phraseology.

The answer is that He, may He be blessed, created all four worlds - Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira, and Asiya - and in order to connect them all together, he created man, for he consists of elements of all the worlds. It was to all the worlds that G‑d said, "Let us make man" so that the world of Beriya could contribute [man's] Neshama, and Yetzira the Ruach.

The Arizal here discusses four aspects of the soul: the Nefesh, or vital soul; the Ruach, or emotions; the Neshama, or intellect, and the life-soul (or "breath of life"). These four correspond in ascending order to the four worlds.

There is no Jew who does not possess part of a heavenly angel….

[The Ruach] is the part of [man's makeup] derived from the angels, for there is no Jew who does not possess part of a heavenly angel. Therefore, in Egypt, it is written, "These are the names of the children of Israel…" - referring to the angels, "…who came to Egypt with Jacob" (Ex. 1:1) down below.

Jacob and Israel are both names of the patriarch Jacob, so the fact that both are used in the same verse begs explanation. The Zohar (II:4b) explains that "Israel" refers to the angelic dimension of the Jewish people, which descended into the Egyptian exile together with "Jacob," their earthly dimension.

This is [the mystical meaning of] the verse, "And the Israelites traveled from Ramses, about six hundred thousand foot[-soldiers]." (Ex. 12:37) [At first look], it sounds as if Scripture was just estimating how many there were, but G‑d forbid [that we should think this], since everything is revealed before G‑d - certainly something as simple as this! Rather, the Israelites said about the angels that went of Egypt [with them]: just like six hundred thousand of them went out below, so went out the same number of angels above.

The world of Asiya contributed the Nefesh [to man].

After this, G‑d contributed His portion [to man], as it is written, "And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life". (Gen. 2:7) Note that here it does not say, "And they breathed", in the plural.

So here we have the answer to Moses' question: "Let us make man" refers to G‑d and the three lower worlds. "And He breathed" refers to G‑d Himself, introducing the purely Divine aspect of the soul into the person. This is considered here as the "contribution" of the world of Atzilut, the world of divine unity and absolute divine consciousness.

When a person sins, his divine element departs [from his body] first so that it not be blemished [by the sin]. The person thus only blemishes the parts of his soul contributed by the various worlds.

It is therefore understood why the Torah says "Let us make man", even though G‑d alone is the creator.

This is analogous to a king who gave a maneh to a number of people, but to one person he did not give anything, but rather told all the others to each give him a sela from what he had given them.

A righteous person…is like the viceroy to whom the king has given his signet ring….

The maneh and the sela are coins that were used in Talmudic times; there are 25 selas in a maneh. In the analogy, since the king gave the other people what they in turn gave the one person, all that the one person received may be considered to be from the king. So, too, even though man received his subordinate aspects from the three lower worlds, since these receive everything they possess from G‑d, man in effect is created only by G‑d.

Therefore, "a righteous person rules by the fear of G‑d", (Samuel II 23:3) for the [Divine] portion of his life-soul is within him, which is part of the King, "a portion of G‑d above." (Job 31:2) He is like the viceroy to whom the king has given his signet ring. As long as he possesses the king's seal, he is [accorded] the honor of the king [himself], and even the king himself will not contravene his decrees.

It is axiomatic in Judaism that G‑d fulfills the decrees of the righteous, as it is written, "He does the will of those who fear Him." (Psalms 145:19)

It follows that when a person is good and goes in the ways of G‑d, he connects all the worlds together and "gives power to his King". Thus, it is written [in this parasha], "…give greatness to our G‑d." (Deut. 32:3)

The Torah then explains how a person gives power to Him, saying, it is because G‑d is "the Rock, His work is perfect". That is, man is His "work" and He created him perfect, giving him a portion of all the worlds.

Why did He do this? Because: "all His ways are just". This means that when a person performs a commandment, the angel [within him] is also considered to have performed it, and it benefits from his good deed. Every person possesses an angelic component, and G‑d desires that all creatures be sustained on the merit of their deeds and not live off [His] charity. But an angel does not possess free choice, so he could never be sustained on his own merit; [he can be sustained] only through [the merits of] the person of whom he is a part. The good deed of the person is considered for the angel as if he did it. This is the inner meaning of the phrase, "for all His ways are just".

It is better to be sustained by the merit of one's good deeds, for otherwise one is living off of G‑d's "charity" and he eats "the bread of shame". Since an angel has no evil inclination, he does not possess free choice (for he has nothing to choose between). Therefore, he cannot be sustained by his own merits, for he has no way of overcoming obstacles and thereby accruing merit. By connecting man with the angels, G‑d enables the angels to partake of man's merits and be sustained through them.

This consideration for the "feelings" of the angels is called His "justice."

Continuing with this verse, "[He is] a trustworthy G‑d…":

G‑d nourishes and provides for the portion of the person's soul of life that He breathed into his nostrils. When the person in this world is not occupied with learning the Torah and performing the commandments - which is the soul's nourishment - when he sleeps, [the soul] ascends on high and is sustained by the radiance of G‑d's glory.

G‑d…returns the soul into the body, even against its will….

But G‑d is "a trustworthy G‑d", and returns the soul into the body, even against its will. [The soul] would have been perfectly happy to remain there [in heaven], for it is the King's daughter, and would He refuse to feed it? Nonetheless, G‑d is trustworthy with [the soul,] the deposit [he received from the person, and returns it to him].

This is the [allegorical] meaning of the verse, "[It is good]to declare Your loving-kindness in the morning and your trustworthiness at night." (Psalms 92:3) It is fitting to recount Your loving-kindness in the morning by referring to the trustworthiness that You demonstrate by night, [for in the morning, when people wake up,] You "return [their] souls back into [their nearly] lifeless bodies." (Liturgy, Morning Blessings)

This is the [allegorical] meaning of the verse, "Renewed every morning, [great is Your trustworthiness]." (Lamentations 3:23) [G‑d] not only acts with loving-kindness toward man by returning [his soul] to him; He also renews it and strengthens it before He returns it.

People generally wake up refreshed, not only with renewed physical capacities but with renewed optimism and patience as well.

[The quoted verse] thus means, "From the fact that You renew it every morning can be seen how great is Your trustworthiness, for You return to the person more than he entrusted to Your care."

This is also the meaning of the phrase, "Into Your hand I entrust my spirit [Ruach]." (Psalms 31:6) The Nefesh remains in the body while the person sleeps, for this is the difference between sleep and death. In death, the Nefesh leaves as well. But in sleep, the Nefesh remains, but the Ruach [together with the levels of the soul above it] ascends above.

This verse is the last sentence in the liturgy surrounding the recital of Shema upon going to sleep at night, before the final blessing.

Thus it is written, "Into Your hand I entrust my Ruach; [redeem me, G‑d of truth.]" Meaning: "Even though I owe You, and [You] would be justified in not returning it, You nonetheless redeem me and return it to me, because You are a faithful G‑d."

During the course of the day we generally abuse the soul G‑d gives us and cause all kinds of spiritual damage, for which we "owe" G‑d reparation, and therefore, He should by right hold on to the soul that we entrust to His keeping during the night. Nonetheless, He trusts that we will fulfill our daily promises to better ourselves and returns the deposit for our use the following morning.

The faithfulness/trustworthiness of G‑d is indicated in the next verse in the parashah, "He is a trustworthy G‑d, with no corruption."

Moreover, [this verse indicates that] He does no wrongdoing to the soul, [as it states, "with no corruption."] He even returns it, against its will, to this world, for on the contrary, this is for its greater good, as it written before [in the continuation of this verse], "Righteous and upright is He" and He wants it to be sustained on its own merit.

The next verse reads, "[If someone] corrupted, he did not corrupt Him; their blemish is His children's".

And the recalcitrant sinner undergoes reincarnation for his own good….

If the person sins and causes corruption, he does not corrupt Him, G‑d forbid, for a person never causes a blemish in his [divine] life-soul, for it departs as he is about to sin. Rather, "their blemish is His children's", i.e. in the aspects of the person he receives from the other worlds, which are the angels [from these worlds], who are "His children". The blemish occurs in them.

And [the recalcitrant sinner] undergoes reincarnation for his own good, as the verse continues, "A stubborn and twisted generation."

If the person is stubborn and does not repent of his sins, he must be reincarnated ("twisted") into another generation.

The song continues, "Shall you do this to G‑d?" This means, "Is it fitting for you to be so ungrateful to G‑d, who bestows such loving-kindness upon you?"

The following phrase, "You degenerate and unwise people" seems not to be logically parallel. It should have either said, "You degenerate and miserly people" or "You stupid and unwise people".

In Hebrew, the two adjectives are couched as opposites: "x and not y". Thus, logically, they should be the inverse of each other, either "degenerate and not-generous" or "stupid and not-wise". Instead, two unrelated concepts seem to be juxtaposed.

[The explanation is that] "degenerate" here means "ungrateful". And [the sense of the continuation is that] even if you were ungrateful and did not walk in G‑d's ways, if you were at least wise, or understanding, or intelligent, you would deserve some [Divine] beneficence because of your wisdom. But you lack wisdom, let alone good deeds.

[The verse continues:] "Is he not your Father, your creator?" This means, "He placed a part of Himself in you, the life-soul He breathed into you."

Betraying this act of goodness is ingratitude of the first order.

He also did the following for you: "When the Most High gave nations their homes…."

This phrase reads literally: "When [He] caused to inherit - the supernal [One] - the nations [their homes]," and may thus also be read, "When [He] caused the supernal [ones] to inherit the nations." Thus…

["The supernal ones"] refers to the seventy angelic princes, under whose dominion G‑d placed the seventy [archetypal] earthly nations.

The angelic prince corresponding to each language took the nation that G‑d gave that language to as his own….

And how does each person recognize his [national] identity and people? [The answer is given in the continuation of the verse] "He set the divisions of man" when He confounded their languages [at the Tower of Babel] (Gen. 11:1-9) and each [angelic prince] was given a different language. The angelic prince corresponding to each language took the nation that G‑d gave that language to as his own.

The different language-groups are not simply arbitrarily different ways of saying the same thing, but reflect the deep cultural differences and ways of thinking that define the various races and cultures.

[G‑d] gave each [nation its distinctive language and culture] only for the sake of Israel. That is why there are seventy [of them] (see Gen. 10), corresponding to the seventy [archetypal] souls of Jacob's children who descended to Egypt. (Gen. 46:27; Ex. 1:5)

As the verse continues, "…He fixed the boundaries of [the] peoples in relation to Israel's numbers."

These seventy were the roots of all the souls of all Israel. G‑d gave whatever He gave to the angelic princes [of the nations] only so that He could extract from them His portion, His people, as the song continues, "For G‑d's portion is His people."

Even though this process began with Abraham, Ishmael issued from him. [The process] continued with Isaac, but Esau issued from him. [Therefore,] Jacob was the main [forefather], for he was the third, possessing a triple-merit, like "a rope that is twisted from three strands that will not quickly be snapped." (Ecclesiastes 4:12) This is indicated in the continuation of this verse: "…[Jacob] is the rope of His inheritance," for there was no imperfection found in his offspring, [unlike Abraham and Isaac].

Abraham and Isaac personified chesed and gevura respectively. Both of these emotions can lead to excess if not properly balanced. The proper balance was achieved in Jacob, who personified tiferet, the harmonious blend of chesed and gevura. Therefore, Jacob did not have any wayward offspring, and he is considered the exclusive patriarch of the Jewish people.

After continuing to recount G‑d's deeds of loving-kindness to His people, Moses' song continues: "[The people] weakened the G‑d who made him, and spurned the Rock of his support."

"He weakened the G‑d who made him," for by requiring to be reincarnated time after time, the person gives the impression that G‑d is weak (G‑d forbid) in that He is powerless to better him the first time. This analogous to an unskilled potter who cannot produce a well-formed vessel the first try, and has to keep trying a number of times.

"And spurned the Rock of his support." It does not say "He did not know…", but "he forgot". For if, in the second or third incarnation, the person would remember what he suffered the first time for sinning, and how he was expelled from Paradise, he would not repeat [the same sins] during these incarnations. But he forgets and repeats them, "as a dog returns to his vomit." (Proverbs 26:11)

In this context, the Arizal now explains the following verse: "And then I saw the wicked being buried and coming, and they went from a holy place, and they were forgotten in the city, what they did. And this was another waste." (Ecclesiastes 8:10) He interprets "they were forgotten" as if it said "they forgot".

This is alluded to in the following verse: "And then I saw the wicked being buried" - but after they were buried the first time, they return to this world. Therefore it is written, "and coming", because they were rejected from Paradise. This is referred to by the words, "and they went from a holy place," i.e. Paradise. Had they then remembered their original sins, for which they were now suffering, they would not repeat them. But they forget all they did during their first incarnation, as it says, "and they forgot in the city", i.e. in this world, "what they did" the first time they were here, and they "return to their vomit". Thus, the second or third time they were reincarnated was a waste, for they did not rectify anything, but, on the contrary, made things worse. Thus it says, "this was another waste."

Generally, it is not people's fault that they do not remember what they did in their previous incarnations; this knowledge is usually denied us. Nonetheless, the very fact that most of us are reincarnations of people who lived previously should give us enough pause to evaluate our lives and realize that we are probably being tested in this life specifically in those areas that "we" failed in the previous lifetime(s).

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah; 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.