Planting the Seeds of our Soul
On this Shabbat there are two Parashat, Vayakhel and Pekudei, both of which are important readings with a tremendous amount of secrets and understandings. There is one unique and powerful revelation in particular that I was reading from the Arvei Nachai that I want to focus on; a teaching that has different layers to it. A teaching, that if we merit to understand it, remember it, and live it, will change our lives.
It is explained that yes, we have a soul; but what is our soul really? Our soul is potential. The soul of each one of us has a certain potential of Light that it can reveal in this world; our work, the reason we are here, is to actualize and reveal that potential of our soul. Our soul is like the seed of a tree - it has the potential to become a tree, but it is nowhere near a tree when it’s in the seed form. You have to put it in the ground. You have to grow it. That is what our soul is - our soul is a small amount of great potential.
As the Zohar tells us, there are five levels to the soul. The fifth and highest level - when our soul achieves its completion - we are not going to talk about here, but it is called Yechidah. Nefesh, the lowest level of our soul, is the power that enables us to move and do any actions. With every action we do, whether good or negative, we are actually going into our soul, taking out the spark of Light of Nefesh and revealing it to the world through that action. The level of Ruach, the second level of our soul, is what gives us the ability to speak. Every time we speak, we are going into our soul, taking a spark of our Ruach, and revealing it in the world. The level of Neshamah is the level of thought. Every time we think, we are going into our soul, taking a spark of the level of Neshamah, and revealing it in the world. The level of Chayah, the fourth level of our soul, is the level of deep thought. Every time we have complex thoughts - whether it’s in our study, whether it’s a scientist trying to discover a cure for cancer - we are able to have those deep thoughts because we are going into our soul, taking a spark of potential Light of Chayah, and using it to reveal deep thoughts.
This is the first understanding we must have. Every action, every word, every thought, every deep thought is taking a part of that level of soul that it is corresponding to, and revealing it in the world.
When something is not manifest, you can change it. For instance, the ground, when in potential form, can grow apples, olives, or oranges depending on what seed you plant. However, once it’s manifest, once you’ve planted the apple tree, it’s grown, and there are apples on the tree, it will never grow olives or anything else no matter what you do. Once you’ve made that decision and made it manifest, you can’t change it. The same is true with these parts of our soul that we reveal.
If a person speaks positively, he reveals the spark of unrealized Light from Ruach in a positive way; he has revealed a part of himself that only existed before in potential, which now that it’s manifest in our world, cannot change. The same, of course, is true in the negative. If a person speaks lashon hara, evil speech, he’s going into his Ruach, taking a spark of unrealized Light and revealing it, creating darkness. In other words, he has revealed himself in a negative way.
Once it’s revealed we can’t change it. And, this is tremendously important - everything we do, everything we reveal, is what we become, what our soul becomes; this gives us a deeper understanding of when it says in the Zohar that every action we do reveals an angel. What is that angel? What is that spiritual form? It is us, revealed in positive or negative ways.
There are two parts to us. There is the potential, what our soul is, and there’s what we’ve revealed.
Our soul is the compilation of all those positive and negative thoughts, words, actions. Now, of course, we don’t feel this reality, but if we pay close attention, it is revealed to us in our daily lives. If a person is experiencing darkness, it’s for one reason - because through his words, action, thoughts and deep thoughts he’s revealing more of his Light towards the darkness than the Light.
Every action that we do is manifesting a part of our soul that leaves, and that can never be changed anymore. Every single thought, action, word, deep thought, takes a spark of that part of soul and reveals it in the world, and then that’s who we are, that’s who we become. Now, we don’t see it. We don’t even feel it sometimes. But that’s what is happening in every single action.
What this information does, hopefully, is completely change the way we view our lives.
What do most of us think, even those of us who are spiritual? We think, “I’ll do this negative action and I know that it will probably come back to me in some way, but, whatever, I’ll handle it, it’s not that bad.” But now we realize that if we do a negative action now, we’re actually revealing darkness and connecting to the Sitra Achra, the Negative Side. We are actually creating ourselves every day. We are putting ourselves through that process of creation, either in a complete connection to the Light of the Creator, or chas v’shalom, a connection, a binding, to the Negative Side.
Next time you are going to say something negative about another person, stop and think about it. You are creating yourself through it. You are taking your spark of Ruach that gives you the strength to speak and you are building a tree, so to speak, and putting it in the house of darkness. It is your tree, your essence. And now you are tied there forever.
With the actions that you are doing, the thoughts that you are having, and the words that you are using, you’re creating yourself. You are taking your unrevealed potential and putting it in one place or the other, which stays forever, and that’s who you are. However… There is one thing, one tool, that enables us to change if we have connected ourselves to the negative, and it is revealed to us in this week’s portion.
It is really the first secret that the Creator tells Moses to tell the Israelites on this Shabbat. It says, when Moses comes down from the mountain he gathers all the Israelites up; the kabbalists explain the reason he did this was to reveal to them this secret of what I have been speaking about - the secret of what the purpose of our soul is, and how we create ourselves, either towards Light or darkness, through our actions, words, thoughts, and deep thought.
But then Moses told them that the Creator also gave him the understanding of how you can change it. How, even if you’ve manifested yourself, your soul, in negative ways, there are still ways you can change it. How? He says, on the six days of the week you do actions. On the seventh day, through the power of Shabbat, you can correct them.
On Shabbat all the worlds elevate. We know, as the kabbalists tell us, there are basically five worlds: Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. We don’t really talk about Adam Kadmon. We talk about the four lower worlds – Atzilut, and the lower three worlds, Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. Below the world of Asiyah, the world within which we live, there’s an intermediate phase, called Nogah, which is not necessarily positive or negative. It can be swayed one way or the other. Below that is the Negative Side, or the worlds of darkness. If a person has, to any degree, created through his negative words, thoughts, actions, then parts of his soul have manifested in darkness. But as the worlds elevate on Shabbat, we can elevate with them. So even in the depths of darkness, we can elevate to the next realm. Whatever we are able to elevate on one Shabbat, the next Shabbat we are able to elevate it even higher.
That means if a man took a spark of his soul, of Nefesh for example, and manifested it as negativity, then he has bound his soul to one degree or another in the realm of darkness. But, if before Shabbat, he remembers what he did, he does the process of teshuvah, he asks for forgiveness, then the part of his soul that he put into the darkness elevates on Shabbat to the realm of Nogah. Then the next Shabbat, if he still remembers it, and does teshuvah and feels bad about it again, then that part of his soul can elevate from the world of Nogah up into the holy worlds, Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.
This is why it says that pure, complete correction can only occur when a person connects to two Shabbats in a row. Because the first Shabbat elevates all of these negative thoughts, actions, words, that we’ve manifested from the negative worlds up to the world of Nogah. Then, the second Shabbat elevates it from the intermediate world to the worlds of purity, to the worlds of holiness.
That’s really what the first verses are in this week’s Parasha; although we explained that once we manifest these sparks of our soul they can’t change, through the power of Shabbat, we actually can elevate them. This is the incredible power that is given to us on this Shabbat. This power will give us the ability daily and consistently to bind our self, reveal our self, in the Etz Chaim, in the Tree of Life, in the Light of the Creator.
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