Excerpts from Likkutei Torah


Explorations of Excerpts:

1.      The difference between the lower and higher Gan Eden .

2.      The Kabbalistic understanding behind the paragraphs of Shema and Vehaya Im Shamoa.

3.      Why did the angels cry after the Churban?

4.      The connection between Bilam, the evil prophet, and Shema.

5.      Is rain from Chesed or Gevurah?



The difference between the lower and higher Gan Eden:[1]

In the realm of Gan Eden, in which the souls of the afterlife receive their temporary reward, there are two general levels; the lower Gan Eden and the Higher Gan Eden. The lower Gan Eden serves as an abode for souls to receive reward for the Mitzvos they fulfilled. The higher Gan Eden serves as an abode for souls to receive reward for the Kavana [ concentration, love and fear] invested in the Mitzvos as well as for Torah study.


The Kabalistic correspondence of the Parshiyos of Shema and Vehaya Im Shamoa:[2]

The two Parshiyos of Veahavta and Vehaya found in the Shema correspond to two opposite Divine characteristics found in the Sefiros. Veahavta is a paragraph discussing the love of Hashem and its Divine root is in Chesed. On the other hand, the paragraph of Vehaya discusses the punishments that are received for lack of loving G-d and following the Torah, and its Divine root is in Gevurah. Despite this, we find the following paradox regarding the Divine names to which each paragraph corresponds to. The paragraph of Veahavta contains 42 words and corresponds to the 42 letter Divine name of מ”ב, which is a name found in Gevurah. The paragraph of Vehaya contains 72 words, and corresponds to the 72 letter Divine name of ע”ב, which is a name found in Chesed. Why does the Parsha of Chesed contain a name of Gevurah and the Parsha of Gevurah contain a name of Chesed? The explanation is as follows: Each Sefirah contains both a vessel and Divine light of G-d [i.e. Elokus], known as the Or and Keli. Prior to the world of Atzilus, both the vessel and Or of a particular Sefirah were of the same characteristics and could not be changed. Hence, the Sefirah of Chesed contained both an Or and vessel of Chesed; an Or of Gevurah could not be invested in the vessel of Chesed. However in the word of Atzilus a new order was established; the ability of Hiskalelus and Ischalfu Duchtaihu. These concepts mean that the vessels of a Sefirah can now also hold the Or of a different Sefirah, hence creating the concept of Chesed in Gevurah and Gevurah in Chesed. [An analogy can be taken from computer programing; in previous years one could not run a windows program [Or] on an apple computer [vessel], while in recent years the two have become compatible.] Now we can understand why the paragraphs of Shema contain a different characteristic than their Divine name. The paragraph of Shema represents the Or of Gevurah, the Divine name of  ,מ”בas it resides in a vessel of Chesed. This is because its purpose involves a passionate love of G-d [i.e. Ratzo], which is a matter of Chesed, but aspires to achieve Mesirus Nefesh, which is an expiry of the soul to above, Bechol Nafshecha, which is an act of Gevurah. The paragraph of Vehaya represents the Or of Chesed, the Divine name of ,ע”ב as it resides in a vessel of Gevurah. This is because it involves drawing the Divine light of the Sefiros into their vessels [i.e. Shuv], which is a matter of Chesed, although it contains matters of retribution for lack of doing so, which is Gevurah.


The Parsha of Bilaam as part of Shema:[3]

The Gemara [Brachos 12b] states that the Sages originally desired to enter the prophecies of Bilaam into the daily Shema prayer. The reason for this is because in his prophecy, Bilaam mentioned that the Jewish people go to sleep and awake like a lion to recite the morning Shema. Another similarity between this verse and the Shema prayer is that the root of a lion contains opposite tendencies within the Sefiros; the spiritual root of the lion contains an Or of Gevurah within a vessel of Chesed, and is hence similar to the Shema prayer which also contains an Or of Gevurah with a vessel of Chesed, as explained above.


Every Jew can attain prophecy while reciting Shema:[4]

In the Shema paragraph of Vehaya Im Shamoa we find a rather peculiar statement made by Moshe Rabbeinu. In this paragraph Moshe orates to the Jewish people the rewards and punishments that are met for serving G-d and lack of doing so. Throughout the entire paragraph of Shema, G-d is referred to in third person, “To love your G-d, to serve Him”, and it would thus befit for the rewards and punishments to also be said in third person such as “He will give you vegetation in your fields.” Strangely however we find that the first reward mentioned is recited in first person “I will give you vegetation in your fields”, which implies that Moshe himself will give the Jewish people vegetation, and cause it to grow in their fields, and not G-d. How could Moshe promise to personally provide matters which are purely within the hands of G-d? In answer to this question the Midrash states that the Shechina, Divine presence, was speaking through the mouth of Moshe, and hence although it was Moshe’s voice box who sounded the words, it was Hashem who spoke them. It requires explanation however for why suddenly by this statement Moshe merited to have the Shechina speak through his mouth, and not by any of the previous statements in Shema. The reason is as follows: This part of Shema is in continuation to the previous section of Veahavta, Bechoil Meodecha, which represents the incorporation of one’s soul into G-dliness, the service of Mesirus Nefesh. After Moshe experienced the Mesirus Nefesh found in the previous section, he now reached a state of unification with Hashem that Hashem could speak through his very mouth. This level of unification to the point of the Shechina speaking through one’s mouth, can be achieved by every Jew through preceding the Avoda of Mesirus Nefesh found in the first paragraph. It is for this reason that every Jew also recites the same words recited by Moshe in the first tense “and I will give you vegetation in your fields.”  


Rain is Gevurah or Chesed?[5]

Rain is mentioned in Shemoneh Esrei within the second blessing of Ata Gibor, in which we say Mashiv Haruach Umorid Hageshem. This second blessing of Shemoneh Esrei corresponds to the Sefirah of Gevurah, hence the words “Ata Gibur”. Why however do we mention in it the concept of rain, which seemingly is Chesed? The explanation is that although rain is certainly an act of Chesed from Hashem which allows vegetation to grow, it requires a measure of Gevurah for it to be receivable below in the world. If rain were to fall in one lump rather than in drops, it would have disastrous effects, and cause flooding and destruction within the world. Likewise if the rain were not pushed down with force it would simply remain above in the heavens. Hence Gevurah is needed in order to turn the rain into drops and force it to come down.   


Even the Sefiros are created Ex nihilo every moment:[6]

A known teaching of the Baal Shem Tov is that all creations are created ex nihilo at every moment, and if the Divine light were to cease to exist even momentarily within the creation, it would return to absolute non-existence and nothingness. In truth this phenomenon does not only apply to the creations, but even to the Sefiros themselves. The Divine Sefiros of Chochmah and Bina must be constantly recreated at every moment, and lack thereof will return the Sefiros to absolute nothingness and non-existence.


The cry of the angels after the Churban:[7]

The destruction of the Temple did not just affect the Jewish people here below, but effected also all the creations found in the supernal worlds of angels and souls. Prior to the destruction, the spiritual beings enjoyed a superior revelation of G-dliness that derived from the unity found in the Sefiros of Za/ז”א [Zeir Anpin, the male aspects of the Midos] and Nukva [Malchus, the female aspects of the Midos], called Zun/זו”נ. The destruction of the Temple however caused a break of this unity, which consequently affected the revelation of G-dliness experienced by the spiritual beings and angels. The angels could no longer receive the revelation that they once experienced, and this caused them tremendous pain and anguish. On this the verse states “The angels of peace cried bitterly”, as they cried on the loss of their revelation.


[1] Likkutei Torah p. 9a

[2] Likkutei Torah p. 12b-13a; Addition clarifications taken from Toras Shmuel 1869 p. 245

[3] Likkutei Torah p. 13a; Addition clarifications taken from Toras Shmuel 1869 p. 245

[4] Likkutei Torah p. 13b

[5] Likkutei Torah p. 13b

[6] Likkutei Torah p. 12b

[7] Likkutei Torah p. 12b

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.