Kabbalistic Concepts

Unifying Our Upper and Lower Soul

The portion Emor begins with the Creator saying to Moses, “Speak to the kohenim, the priests, the children of Aaron, and you should speak to them…” There is a repetition of the concept of speaking to the children of Aaron. And the commentators ask, why does the Creator tell Moses to speak once and then speak again? There is a Midrash which says that when the Creator speaks to the angels, He only needs to tell them once what needs to be done, and it is done. But mankind, who reside in this world and therefore have the negative inclination, need to be told twice, and hopefully then, will be able to listen and do it.

So, Emor begins with a repetition where the Creator says to Moses, “Speak to them and speak to them again,” and we want to understand what the Midrash is talking about here. The basic understanding is that the Creator is telling Moses, you can say things once to the angels and they will do it, but if you say it twice to people, only maybe then will they listen. But why twice? While it seems like an arbitrary number, we know that nothing in the Torah is arbitrary. As such, in order for us to understand what the secret of these two levels of speech is we have to come to a new understanding of who we are.

There is a section from Bnei Yissaschar, the Rav Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov in his book, Igra de Kalla al HaTorah, where he says the soul that each one of us receives from the Creator before we come into this world comes from a place called the Shechinah, the World of the Souls. And, as Rav Ashlag repeats often in the Ten Luminous Emanations, in spiritual matters there is never a lack. In the physical world, for example, if we take a cup and give it to somebody else, that person then has the cup, and we no longer do; however, that reality does not exist in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, there is never a disappearance, such that if Light or energy existed in one place at one time, it exists there forever, and if Light has been shared all it means is that it both remains where it was while also existing in another place. 

And the same is true about our souls. Our souls both initially come from, and reside forever, in this world called the Shechinah, or the K’lal Israel, the congregation of all the souls, so that even after our soul comes down from there, it still also continues to live and exist in the supernal world. Unfortunately, we often make the mistake of thinking that our soul exists only in this world, but that is not true, because there are two halves of our soul: the half that resides in the Upper World, and the half that is sent down into the body. In fact, our soul has 248 parts of the body just like our physical body has 248 parts.

This understanding, I hope, changes our view of what we tend to think our spiritual work is. Because once we understand that we have two parts of our soul - the supernal soul that remains perfect all the time, and the lower soul that is in our body - we now have a new way of viewing our spiritual work. The purpose of our spiritual work is for every spiritual action and action of connection that we do to enable our supernal, perfect soul to shine down into our lower soul, into the soul that is in the physical body. And then the ultimate purpose of our spiritual work is for the totality of our supernal soul to shine down to our lower soul, becoming one.

At the time of the binding of Isaac, for example, when Abraham achieved the ultimate purpose of his life, it says that the Creator called down to Abraham and said his name twice; the Zohar explains that is the secret of this verse. Because Abraham achieved the perfection of his soul at that moment, it was not that the Creator sent him down great Light, but rather that his own perfect soul was able to completely unify with his lower soul. He had created the perfect connection between his upper soul and his lower soul, and therefore, achieved the purpose for which he came to this world. And that is the goal for every single one of us to achieve: through our spiritual work causing our supernal soul to shine down into our lower soul. 

Conversely, if a person acts in ways of Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, he creates a barrier between his supernal soul and his lower soul.  Therefore, what happens, unfortunately, is that he diminishes his connections and his spiritual work. When he acts upon his Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, he causes separation between his supernal soul and his lower soul and as a result does not receive the blessings and Light that come from that connection to our supernal soul.

So, now we have a new way to view our spiritual work. On the one hand, there is the supernal soul, the perfect soul that exists in that world called the congregation of souls, also called the Shechinah, and then there is the lower part of the soul that came down into the body. And in any spiritual action that we do, if our consciousness can be such that through doing that action we awaken a stronger connection between the supernal soul and the lower soul that is in our body, we can unify both parts of the soul, allowing us to draw down more of the Light and blessings we are meant to have in this world. 

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