Tzav – Purification of the soul

ונכרתה־הנפש־ההוא־מעמיה\” \”And that soul shall be cut off from his people\”.  This warning appears four times in the parasha. What does it mean?

 

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When the Torah talks about death it is almost never about termination of life as we know it. The first time we read about a warning of death as a result of an action is in Bereshit (Genesis) where G-d tells Adam and Eve \”Do not it (eat) from the tree of Knowledge…\” \”כִּי, בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ–מוֹת תָּמוּת\” \”in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.\”

We know that Adam did not die and in fact he lived 930 years.  The death that the Torah is talking about is a spiritual \”cut off\”, a disconnection from the root of the soul. \”ונכרתה־הנפש־ההוא־מעמיה\” can be read as \”ונכרתה־הנפש־ההוא־מעמ–יה\”, which means \”and the soul shall be cut off from the nation of \’יה\’.\” We know that those two letters represent the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton and that they relate to the higher Sefirot of Chokmah and Binah.

Kabbalah teaches us that there are five levels to the soul (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah, Chaya and Yechida). We will not expand on all the levels here but we need to know the life force given to us is called Nefesh and it is in the blood, as it said in Deuteronomy 12:23, \”רַק חֲזַק, לְבִלְתִּי אֲכֹל הַדָּם, כִּי הַדָּם, הוּא הַנָּפֶשׁ; וְלֹא-תֹאכַל הַנֶּפֶשׁ, עִם-הַבָּשָׂר\”  \”Only be steadfast in not eating the blood; for the blood is the soul (life); and you shall not eat the soul (life) with the flesh.\”

When blood stops circulating in the body life stops and the soul separates from the body.

The actions of a person affect the blood. The purpose of the sacrifices is to cleanse the blood by bringing the animal to the Kohen to be slaughtered and burned on the altar. The Kohen follows a specific process to remove the impurity from a person. The way the blood is handled is very important in the process. The Zohar explains that the evil inclination spirit (Yetzer Hara) burns in a person like fire and only the Kohen can remove the spirit of impurity from the person with fire because the Kohen is from the right.

The fire on the Altar should stay on at all the times in order to keep all the impure spirits away. \”אֵשׁ, תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ–לֹא תִכְבֶּה\” \”Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.\” Repeating this verse multiple times will help to overcome and stop the evil inclination from invading a person\’s thoughts.

 The Torah forbids us from eating the flesh with the blood because as explained above the animal soul is in the blood, and if eaten it gets connected to the person, contaminates his soul, and causes a disconnect from the pure root of the soul.

A process of cleansing is necessary to purify the soul again.

Before Yom Kippur we do the Kapparot to remove judgments from ourselves. This is the closest action to the sacrifices done in the Temple. When properly done a person should watch while the Shochet (\”שוחט\”) slaughters the bird and lets the blood drip to the ground, then the person should take soil and cover the blood with a special blessing. The soul of the bird takes the judgment away from us and we cover the blood in a symbolic burial process.  Giving the bird to the needy or eating it is adding an additional positive action to the process and helps elevate the animal soul to a higher level. It is known that the animals brought for sacrifices in the Holy Temple were waiting in line for their turn to be scarified. On a soul level they knew that being scarified will elevate their soul to a higher level.

 The Jewish people have the responsibility to be a Holy Nation \”וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים, וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ\” \”and you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.\” Following the Torah keeps us on the higher level of \”יה\”.

Rabbi Avraham Azulai (\”Chessed L\’Avraham\”) writes that eating or not eating Kosher will not make your life longer or shorter. The Jewish soul must keep kosher for the purity of the soul. The 613 mitzvoth is our guide to follow in order to keep us at a higher level, closer to the light of the creator and be able to be part of a Holy nation. Otherwise we get \”cut off\”.

Special Note: All the references to the Zohar is from The Zohar with Peirus Hasulam by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi Ashlag, ZT\”L.

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VaYikra – The power of the letters

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\”ויקרא־אל־משה־וידבר־יקוק־אליו־מאהל־מועד־לאמר\”

The Torah has five books. The number five in Kabbalah represents the Ten Sefirot as Keter, Chokmah, Binah, Zeir Anpin (six levels) and Malchut. The first book, \”בראשית\” (Genesis) is Keter, \”שמות\” (Exodus) is Chokmah, \”ויקרא\” (Leviticus) is Binah, \”במדבר\” (Numbers) is Zeir Anpin and \”דברים\” (Deuteronomy) is Malchut.

The process of transformation from Spiritual to physical is called \”השתלשלות\”, evolving. Keter is coming from the unknown and the source of the light, Chochma, channels the light and Binah begins the process of manifestation or the forming of the vessel. (To simplify, vessel is a container of light with ability to create or cause an action in this world).

The book of Bereshit is the source of everything in this world.  Shemot (= names in Hebrew) brings the revelation of the light through the process and the miracles of breaking the bondage to Egypt, the revelation on Mount Sinai and the completion of building the Tabernacle.

In Vayikra (Leviticus) we have the tools to activate and use the light. The first verse \”ויקרא־אל־משה\” with small Aleph initiates the connection of the Light through the Tabernacle and the Torah as \”לוחות־העדות\” is in the Arc. Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla in \”Saarei Orah\” (part \”א\”) explains that the Aleph is for Ohel Moed \”אוהל־מועד\”. The call to Moshe from Ohel Moed is a connection of the Light from the level of Malchut, the small Aleph.

The Zohar begins the parasha with Rabbi Elazar quoting Yeshayahu (Isaiah) the prophet saying to king Ahaz, \”שאל־לך־אות־מעם־י׳־אלוקיך\”, then asking the question \”What\’s the difference between the first and the last generations?\” and answers that the first generations knew the supernal wisdom of the letters and how to combine them into powerful tools to control actions in this world. Even the wicked ones in Yisrael, Like King Ahaz knew the letters of Binah and the Letters of Malchut.

The letters are the secret of the vessel and the light, which comes from Binah with the essence of Zeir Anpin and worlds of Briah, Yetzirah, Asiya (Creation, Formation, and Action).

Those are the letters given to Moshe on Mount Sinai and contain in the Torah.
There are 16 occurrences in the Torah with different size letters. Ten large letters connect us to the level of Binah and six small letters connect us to Malchut of Zeir Anpin.

The first letter of the Torah is the letter \”ב\” of \”בראשית\”. It signifies that the seed of the Torah is in Binah. That is where the energy comes to Zeir Anpin (The Torah). The first verse of the Torah says \”בראשית־ברא־אלקים־את\” that is, in the beginning G-d created “את”. Hebrew Aleph Bet was created first and \”את\” is the first and the last letter of it. The Zohar says that 2000 years before the world was created G-d played with the Hebrew letters. In another place it says that G-d was looking in the Torah and creating the world. This teaches us that the Hebrew letters are above all dimensions. When a scriber (\”סופר־סתם\”) writes a Torah scroll he must be clean physically and spiritually, His consciousness should be pure and must go to the Mikveh before he starts writing.

Before writing each letter he should touch the scroll with the ink to make a tiny mark and meditate on the letter Yod, \”י\” (to connect the letter to the upper levels) as a start for the actual letter. There are many rules on writing a Kosher Torah and even if one of them is broken, it invalidates the whole Torah Scroll and it can not be used as a tool to draw the light. There are many printing devices that can print a magnificent and accurate Torah scroll, but without the needed consciousness it cannot be used.

A person that orders a Torah scroll must choose the scriber that is going to do the writing carefully, in order to have the best channel of light possible for him and for the people that will read and listen to the reading from it.

The top of every column in the Torah scroll begins with the letter \”ו\”, the columns in the Torah are like the letter \”ו\”, and only in six places the letters at the top of the columns are different. Those letters spells \”ביה־שמו\” numerical value \”המשיח\”, \”The Mashiach\”

In ten places in the Torah there are 32 dots above the letters, representing 10 Sefirot and the 22 letters of the \”א־ב\”. They channel the 32 paths of wisdom (Chokmah). The first letter of the Torah is \”ב\” and the last one is \”ל\”, together it is \”לב\” (numerical value 32) which also means \”Heart\”.

There are 32 teeth in the mouth for the same reason. (To channel that energy). It says \”Life and Death by the hand of the tongue\”, \”חיים־ומות־ביד־הלשון\”. This tells us that we are constructed to be channels for the light and that we have the ability to build or destroy with our words.

The Ari Hakadosh in the beginning of \”Shaar Ruach Hakodesh\” (Part of Kitvei Ha\’Ari) said that with every word we say we create an angle; positive or negative depending on the word. The positive angles help us in time of need and the negative angels create blockages when we don\’t need them.

The letters of the Torah and the words we hear from the reader on Shabbat are very important connections for us to draw the necessary energy from the reading. When we hear the process of sacrifices in the Tabernacle to cleanse a person from impurity, we also connect to the same energy.

When it says \”ונשלמה־פרים־שפתינו\” \”we will pay sacrifices with our lips\” it means that the power of the words are like the sacrifices in the Temple . Since the Temple is not accessible and we can not bring sacrifices to the Kohen to remove any negativity from ourselves, we read and recite the process that was done in the Temple. With this knowledge and the Ari\’s teaching on creating angels with our words, we can begin to understand the reason for all the different prayers we recite on a daily basis, Shabbat and Holidays.

Another revelation from Zohar Vayikra is about Moshe who couldn\’t go inside the cloud in the Tabernacle. \”ולא־יכול־לבוא־משה־אל־אהל־מועד־כי־שכן־עליו־הענן\”. The question is why he couldn’t go inside the cloud now when he could be in the cloud on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights before. The Zohar explains that on the Mountain the cloud was from Malchut and on the Tabernacle, it was from Binah. All the chariots and the vessels of the supernal Tabernacle were in this cloud.
That was the hidden process that came from the left column of Binah, called \”Mishkan and Ohel Moed\” to establish the presence of the Shechinah in the lower levels and to give us support.

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