Parshas Mishpatim-Torah Or-Animal status souls versus human status souls

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Parshas Mishpatim

Vealah Hamishpatim Asher Tasim…”

[Torah Or p. 148]

Parshas Mishpatim contains many Torah commandments.[1] The first commandment is the law of an Eved Ivri, the Jewish slave, the detailed laws of which include when this slave becomes emancipated and the precise conditions of his slavery. The Mitzvah of an Eved Ivri is only performed during times when the Yovel is active.[2] In today’s times, when we do not keep the Yovel, this law is no longer in practice. Nevertheless, the Torah is eternal and is called “Torah” from the term Horaah, meaning “lesson”. What eternal lesson does the Eved Ivri teach us in every generation? The Mamar of this Parsha delves into the Chassidic meaning behind these slaves and their connection to each and every one of us at all times. We witness many different types of Jewish character, yet it is the Tzaddikim that stick out and cause us to ponder how and why they are different. How did they become so holy and dedicated to Hashem, having no care or desire for worldly matters? This is based on the different types of souls that Hashem created. In general, there are two degrees of souls that descend from Heaven into the Jewish body. One type of soul is defined as a son, and the second as a slave. These two souls have different battles and each one contains a distinct purpose in its descent below. The focal difference between these two souls is found within their capability to arouse a feeling and desire for G-d. Although one may be observant and follow every law dictated by G-d in his Torah, he may still not feel any real passion in his heart to attach to Him. Even those well-versed and learned in the teachings of Chassidus and Kabbalah, which emphasize and teach of Hashem’s greatness, cannot manage to arouse their heart to desire Him rather than worldly pleasures. Why not? How can one change? This is the purpose of Moshe Rabbeinu. The Moshe of each generation gives the souls the ability not to only comprehend G-d, but also to arouse a vivid feeling in the heart to desire to cleave to Him.


Explorations of the Mamar:

  1. How is the Mitzvah of an Eved Ivri relevant in today’s times?
  2. What are the two types of souls that Hashem created to descend into the Jewish body?
  3. Why does our comprehension of Hashem’s greatness not automatically create a vivid change in our passion for Him?
  4. How does the Moshe [of each generation] feed us spiritual life?



The Question:

The verse states, “And these are the statutes that you shall place before them. When you purchase an Eved Ivri.” It requires further analysis as to why the verse first uses a plural tense in the words “before them” and then uses a singular tense in the phrase “when you purchase.” The explanation is as follows: This verse is talking to Moshe Rabbeinu and not to the entire Jewish people, and it means to say, “In order for you, Moshe, to be successful in placing the statutes before the Jewish people you must first acquire a Jewish slave”. [What is the meaning behind this statement? Why should Moshe buy a Jewish slave and how would it help in any way in his mission to instruct the Mitzvos to the Jewish people?] The explanation of this matter is hidden in the verse, Venasati Eisev Besadcha Livhemtecha, “And I will place vegetation in your fields for your animals”. This verse, which is part of the second paragraph of the Shema, was stated by Moshe Rabbeinu in reference to himself [“I will place”] in contrast to the other verses of this paragraph, which all refer to Hashem. But how can Moshe cause vegetation to grow in the fields for the animals? Isn’t this only in the Hands of Hashem? The explanation is that on a spiritual level, it is specifically Moshe that feeds spiritual vegetation to the spiritual animals, as will be explained.


Two types of Jewish souls:

Hashem created two variations of Jewish souls. This is derived from the verse, Vezaratri Zera Adam Vezera Beheima, “I have planted seed for man and seed for animals”. This verse refers to the two levels of Jewish souls, the souls that are defined as man, Zera Adam, and the souls that are defined as animals, Zera Beheima.

Zera Adam: The first class of souls, the “Man” soul, is a higher level of the two, just as the human class surpasses the animal kingdom. These souls are very high and contain very great spiritual capabilities. They are called “Man souls” because they derive from the spiritual level called Adam Haelyon, the supernal man that rests on the supernal throne of glory. These souls are the souls of the supernal world of Atzilus and are called “children” to Hashem. The amount of Jews that contain this level of soul is very minute. This was true even in earlier generations, as stated by the Rashbi: “I have seen men of stature and they are few”.[3]

Zera Beheima: The second class of souls, Zera Beheima, are the souls of the world of Beriyah. These souls are called “slaves” to Hashem. These souls comprise almost all the souls in this generation, as even in previous times the Zera Adam souls were few in number.


The focal difference between the Zera Adam and Zera Beheima souls:

The main advantage of the Zera Adam souls, in contrast to the animal class souls, is that the Zera Adam souls contain the tremendous intellectual capability of comprehending G-dliness. They have a mature level of Daas in Elokus, whereas the animal class souls lack Daas in Elokus. This is similar to the difference between a human and an animal, of which a human has intellectual capability as opposed to an animal. However, in truth, this difference does not refer to a total inability of intellectual comprehension by the animal class souls, but rather an inability to bring their comprehension to emotional fruition. Every human soul is built with intellectual capabilities that differentiate humans from animals. However, not every person is able to internalize their knowledge to the point that their emotions live in accordance with their intellectual obligations and desires. The Zera Adam souls create an emotion and desire for Hashem through their comprehension. In contrast, although Zera Beheima souls can also comprehend the greatness of Hashem through reading Sefarim and listening to lectures, they do not have the ability to create a feeling of desire for Hashem in their hearts. This bridge between the intellect and emotion is called “Daas”. The animal class souls lack the bridge of Daas.


Sight versus sound:

This difference is similar to the difference between sight and sound. When one sees something, he experiences either fear or love for it. When he hears about it, he is not experiencing it in the same way and hence it does not carry enough reality to arouse his feelings. [This is similar to the difference between one who is reading a dramatic and suspenseful novel, and thus experiences those feelings of drama and suspense, and one who hears about the book from the reader. The person who merely hears of the book is not experiencing the story and hence it does not affect his emotions. The Zera Adam souls are actually experiencing G-dliness. The Zera Beheima souls are merely hearing about it.] The knowledge of the Zera Beheima souls is thus very similar to the experience of an animal. Although animals do not have comprehensive capabilities, they do have the power of imagination. However, this imagination does not affect any change in them. Similarly, when the Zera Beheima soul comprehends G-dliness, it is like mere imagination and does not affect their emotional experience. It is similar to just plain dreaming, as the verse states, “We were like dreamers”. These two forms of souls are likewise hinted to in the verse that states, “I created man in our image [Tzalmeinu] and liking [Kadmuseinu]”. The Zera Adam souls are created “in our image,” Bitzalmeinu, as they contain similar capabilities to the supernal man in the level of Atzilus. However, the Zera Beheima souls are “in our liking,” Kadmuseinu, as their knowledge is in a way of imagination, which is called Dimyon in Hebrew.


The souls by Matan Torah:

When the Jewish people received the Torah, all the souls were on a level of Zera Adam and could vividly experience G-dliness. This is the meaning of the verse, “they saw the sounds,” that they comprehended G-dliness on a level of sight and not just sound. However, after the sin [of the Golden calf] they fell from their level of sight and returned to the state of sound, Zera Beheima.


A parable:

A middle-aged man with a wife and children went to see his doctor for his annual medical checkup. It was nothing serious, just routine checking that everything was working properly. After the blood results were returned, the doctor summoned the patient for an appointment. “You have to begin dieting,” stated the doctor. “Your blood count shows a very high LDL cholesterol level and you cannot afford at your age to suffer cardiovascular health issues.” The doctor went on to impress upon his patient the importance of abstaining from fat-filled foods and sugar for the benefit of his health. The patient left the room knowing he would have to make a drastic change in his diet. This would be difficult, as he enjoyed eating, and who doesn’t? But in life, one must do what is important, and not what one desires on the spur of the moment, and he hence entered into a drastic life change in his eating menu. At first, the person was filled with motivation and enthusiasm towards his healthy eating. He even began losing his craving for the foods he once loved. However, after some time he succumbed to a light temptation for a food that was off his list, and that was the gateway that led to his eventual fall back into his bad eating routine. This man knew the importance and absolute necessity in controlling his food habits, and nevertheless he could not seem to rid himself of that still existing temptation. Many of us experience this either in the actual case above of dieting or in other matters in our lives. This is a classical example of one’s inability to bring knowledge into the chambers of the heart. If the mind knows that sugar is bad, why does the heart not stop coveting sugar? Why can’t one’s emotions be in sync with one’s intellectual reality? This is precisely the difference between the two types of souls, Zera Adam and Zera Beheima. The Zera Adam soul not only comprehends G-dliness, but completely transforms his entire being to live with that knowledge, and hence when he comprehends the greatness of Hashem his emotions completely lose interest in worldly matters and gain a passionate desire to cleave only to G-d. However, the Zera Beheima soul, despite having comprehended G-d’s greatness, and intellectually desiring to dedicate its entire life to G-d, still maintains worldly desires and lust-filled passions for the material world and its pleasures. Furthermore, people with this soul cannot even manage to arouse an actual emotion or vivid feeling for G-d despite their comprehension.            

Moshe feeds G-dliness to the animal class souls:

Based on the above, we can now understand the meaning behind the verse that Moshe Rabbeinu places the vegetation on the field for the animals. Moshe Rabbeinu draws down to the Jewish souls the bridge that connects their hearts to their intellect, so that even the Zera Beheima souls are able to arouse passion for Elokus. It is for this reason that Moshe Rabbeinu was called Raya Mehemna, as he draws down a vivid Emuna, belief in Hashem, into the collective Jewish souls.  This is the meaning of Venasati Eisev, “I give vegetation”, as Eisev here refers to the level of Daas, feeling, in G-dliness. Moshe plants Daas in the fields even for the animals, so that even the animal class souls experience emotion for G-dliness.


The angels’ perception of G-dliness:

Even the angels, which are called “Beheimos”, receive their ability of comprehension, Daas, from Moshe. The angels, however, only receive it after our recital of Kadosh [in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei]. The level of the angels is lower than the level of the souls, even of the animal class souls, as all souls are on the level of Machshava, thought, while angels are on the level of Dibbur, speech. This is why the angels cannot say Kadosh until it is recited below by the Jewish people. At the same time, however, we too cannot say Kadosh until the angels say it, as down here, in this world, the angels are higher. This is why we say Yachad in Kedusha, as the angels and the souls are saying Kadosh together.


The meaning of the verse Vieileh Hamishpatim

Based on the above, we can now understand the meaning of the verse, Vieilu Hamishpatim Asher Tasim Lifneihem. Mishpatim refers not just to the statutes of the Torah, but to the level of Daas in G-dliness.              Thus, Hashem commanded Moshe: “Place the level of Daas into the souls of the Zera Beheima”. Hashem then added to Moshe how this can be accomplished: “Buy for yourself an Eved Ivri”. When an item is purchased, it does not change form but simply changes ownership and location. Hashem was telling Moshe that in truth all Jewish souls are Zera Adam and have Daas in Elokus. It is just that many of these souls descended below into the world of Beriyah and received an external state of Zera Beheima. It is Moshe’s job to simply reveal the true essence and origin of these souls, change their ownership from Beriyah to Atzilus, and it is not necessary for you to create within them something new.


Lessons of the Mamar:

·         Every Jew contains within his soul a deep love for G-dliness. In the souls of our generation, however, this love is hidden deep within our animal class lifestyle. If you dig, you will find. It is our job to simply reveal the deep feelings for Hashem that we already contain and it is not necessary to create something new.

·         The above revelation of the essential love that we already contain cannot be accomplished alone. The Moshe of each generation is given the task to help us dig into our hearts and form a bridge between our knowledge and emotions. This is why the connection to Tzaddikim holds such a strong emphasis in our service of G-d, as through them we are able to attach to the Shechina.


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[1] It contains a total of 23 positive commandments and 30 negative commandments, making a total of 53 commandments. [See Chinuch Mishpatim, where he lists 16 positive commandments and 8 negative commandments. However, in truth he splits this Parsha into two portions, calling the second portion “Im Kessef Tilveh”, which he writes contains 7 positive commandments and 22 negative commandments.

[2] Chinuch Mitzvah 43; Rambam, Laws of slaves.

[3] See Tanya chapter 10

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