Angels, Demons, etc




enoch_remnant-trust.jpgThe concept of Evil is very puzzling to people who make their first steps towards the Creator and I therefore would like to explore on a very simplistic level the source of Evil and the reason behind it.First of all let’s start from the source. It is written “I create Light and I create Darkness”, which means that the Creator is the source of both Good and Evil! Baal-HaSulam uses the famous quote from our sages “Ein od Milvado” (there is none beside Him) to denote this concept in his article in the book Shamati. In addition, Tefilin (phylacteries) that we put on left arm and our head have a hint to it – if you look closely to the box of the head (typically between base & the box) you’ll see hairs coming from within it [the hair used as string to tight the inner part of tefilin – see picture below]. According to Kabbalah hair is a sign of impurity and therefore a natural question would arise – why is it being exposed on tefilin? The answer is: the hair (i.e. impurity/source of evil) deliberately comes out from tefilin to denote the point that source of Evil (as well as source of good) is only one – the Creator, and the Creator is like this black tefilin box – perfect and completely closed from us, i.e. beyond our understanding.

Now that we’ve passed the source let’s understand the reason behind it. Many people struggle with the idea that Evil can come from Creator. Of course, how can a death of innocent child or atrocities of Natzis be possibly initiated from such Divine essence of Creator when the most fundamental thing that Kabbalists teach us is that the Creator is pure love?! Many things can be written on the topic, however I would like to bring two points on pure logical level that should address this issue.

  1. The creation and possibility of Evil was necessary to create the most important factor – FREEDOM OF WILL! If there is no Evil, then there is no freedom of choice, if there is no freedom of choice we would have never been able to create Keilim and thus receive the Divine Light, and as Kabbalists teach us the whole world was created with only ONE purpose – to bestow good to Creations (“Matarat HaBriya Haita Lehativ Le-Nivaraav”)
  2. If there is freedom of will, then if a person decides to exercise it, Creator has to let him do it, otherwise we go back to point one.

250px-tefillinthreads.jpgNow to the point of Demons. Have you ever thought about who they really are and where they came from? I hope by now the second part of the question should be answered without hesitation – everything comes from Creator, but the question still remains as to HOW they came to us.

It is written in Bereshit that HaShem decided to flood the earth when the humanity fell to its lowest state. While this was clear, what really caught my eye was the sentence that stated that “Bnei-Alokim” (i.e. the sons of HaShem) started to have relationships with women from earth. While Rashi explains that the simple meaning of Bnei-Alokim would be the sons of noble families, this explanation wasn’t of satisfactory as it was apparent to me Torah wouldn’t use the term “bnei-alokim” to refer to human beings – Torah clearly was telling us about Angels having relationship with women!!

Time passed, but I couldn’t find answers until I found a reference to the book of Chanoch (Enoch in English). The story of Enoch is very interesting – in Bereshit, Torah tells us that HaShem Himself (!) took Enoch from earth when he was 365 years old. Commentators point out that his death was unexpected as typical lifespan of people on earth at that time was 900+ years. There are disagreements to the reason that HaShem decided to take Enoch in such “early age” but I don’t want to touch on them here.

Apparently Enoch left a manuscript in which he elaborates on this point of Bereshit. He describes that at that time Angels had relationships with women and that women bore their children, which were born giants, also referred to as Nepilim in Midrash.  It is interesting that the word Nepilim means “to fall” – i.e. people fell on their faces when they saw Napilim, and my suspicion is that this happened not only because of their might height, but also due to their nature. These Nepilim and their descendents are some of the demons that many scriptures refer to.

It is unfortunate that Judaism isn’t accepting the book of Enoch as reliable source and therefore its original text which was in Hebrew is lost and we only have translations from it. Yet, it is fascinating scripture that describes Nepilim as well as the story of Enoch – specifically his transformation from Human to Angel. The script as well as other sources maintains that Enoch ascended to Heavens and become The Angel of Face, i.e. the Angel that has the authority to give orders on behalf of the Creator Himself – the only angel of this kind. It is also interesting to know that his new name “Metatorn” has gematriya of “Shadai” – HaShem’s name that literally means “She Amar Dai” – “One who said Enough”, i.e. One who defined limits within endless Spiritual realm.

If you can read Russian, I highly recommend this article which has comprehensive coverage on Angels:

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16 Responses to Angels, Demons, etc

  1. 124 says:

    Fascinating and well written so as to be understood – I’m new to studying Kabbalah with Bnei Baruch and we wouldn’t discuss the use of orthodox rituals but I’m really glad now that I’ve learnt why those boxes are used… to me Judaism is important although I am not a Jew I know it is the key to understanding Kabbalah better. Thanks Felix.

  2. kia von köln says:

    Felix !!! Hashem gesegneter Mann. Wie geht es dir?

  3. Felix says:

    I’m doing well, thank you – but I don’t speak German unfortunately :)

  4. kia von köln says:

    Baruch HaShem !!! We love you.

  5. kia von köln says:

    I am You,You are me,We are We !!! AOOM !

  6. IamYOU says:–ayDM&feature=related

    Chabad Lubawitch,Wahhab from Saudi,or HoJJati from Iran ( Ahmaddinejjad)… Have you one germany-friend for Translation ?

    We love You !! Felix

  7. As we started to analyse the meaning of angels,demons,man,woman (in article “and more about Angels and Zohar”) as parts or levels of our spiritual structure commomly called Soul, and we try to see more or less as it works,and we saw that this structure is given to us by G-d,it is important to stress that if we knew exactly how all details of spiritual worlds are built, it would still leave us with no practical means of changing Ratzon lekabbel into Ratzon lekhashpia which is our praimary task, because the Key is not in Knowlege only.It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t learn and try to understand what we are learning on the contrary-we should, but we have to understand that spiritual knowlege is revealed to a person not for the sake of him knowing it, but because he needs to know it to face next level of tasks of his development.That is way the book of Enoch isn’t preserved in its originalHebrew Form and not used as Kabbalistic one, because it has knowlege for the sake of knowlege and not for the inner work of a person.Wisdom Light which is not dressed in Mercy Light can make more damige then good.What we have to know that dispite all the coplexity of our inner spiritual structure we are all garanted the method of dealing with our Angels and Demons, Evel Eye and Napillim within ourselves( Napillim-doubled amount of Ratzon lekkabel,because we falled to deal with the previece one) because there is nothing around us exept of Light, all the rest is within us and to deal with it one nead to know that only One who made us Know which Book and when to reveal to us, and if He decided that we’d better stady first Torah,Zohar,TES,TalmudB. andY. Believe Him that He knows what He is Doing.Wether one like or not the way to spiritual is through Torah and Mitzvot AS Baal HaSulam and Rabash understood it and not any other way.

  8. Now let us try to understand what evil is.
    As we know there is only Creator and Creation we are speaking about. what we know about Creator,that He is Tov and Meittiv( He is Good and Bestowing).And what we know about Creation that it is something that enjoys getting what Creator has to give.
    IDyll(IDle, IDol, IDea, IDeal, IDiot,IDem, IDiom, ID in psycology is a reservoir of the instinctual drives… dominated by the pleasure principle and irriational wishing.Somehow it is ID the short form for ” identification”.IDeation is the formation of conception of ideas by the mind) .I’ll let you play with all this words, but what is very important to understand- why Malkhut made Tzimtzum.What wasn’t ideal in the above IDYLL.
    In simple way- what would have made a beloved, cherished daugther of the Richest Man in the world to want to leave all the luxury, to change her ID and to leave for unknown place in poorest region and most undeveloped place in the World? And the answer is the wish to understand Who she really is without the Glory of Her Father?What she is capable of?And if she would be appreciated as her Father by her deads and not by her belonging in origin to the Great Father!
    What we know from our Sages that Creator is Yesh out of Yesh and Creation is Yesh out of Ain. the logic says that the right way to say is Creator is Yesh( lehashpia) out of Yesh(lehashpia) and Creation is Ain(lekkabbel) out of Yesh (lehashpia) but the position of the words is different it says Yesh(lehashpia) out of Ain(lekkabbel). It means that though at the beginning Creation is a pure Ratzon Lekkabbel but it is garanteed the possibilityof the level of Creator.
    How come?-Simple enough.Ratzon Lekkabbel is Hommer=material.As such it can’t be called good or bad, or evil.Iron as iron has no above characteristics until it is given a form and a purpose of using that form.An iron is good for ironning, but no good for knocking with it on somebody’s head, it then turns into weapon and so on.
    So what we see here that it is not Ratzon Lekkabbel that is no good, or bad, or evil, but the form and purpose of its use that each of us gives to the portion of Ratzon Lekkabbel that he iwas born with as a Creation.
    Now let us see how
    Hitler-boy became Hitler-Evil
    Stalin-boy – Stalin-Evil
    Mao(etc.)-boy – Mao(etc.)-Evil
    And why each of us has the same potential to be NEXT x-boy(girl) – PRESENT-EVIL.
    The transformation doesn’t take place in a minute. As we know each cell of our body has all the information about all the body’s structures and functions in its DNA, but not all the potential of DNA is activated in each cell,but only a certain part called-genome, and in this way each cell( while they are equel according to the potential and infprmation of DNA) knows what organ it belongs and what work it has to do for the best of functioning of the body.Now if this cell looses its memory( forgets what is its purpose in this life)=forgets which genome should be activated and which one should be supressed- it begins to develop on uncontrolled rate and finally distroies all the body.The process known as malignacy in physiology.
    I am sure that somehow, somewhere- Killim(vessels) Kodmim(precede) to Orot(Lights),Hitler-boy, Stalin-boy,and etc., heard an idea of the purpose of the Man being in this world.But first they didn’t care to think about it,then didn’t care to hear it anymore and then they did dare to prohibite to speak about it and then they dare to distroy the books about it ,then the opponents, then groups of opponents, then nations…
    And I am sure that there was something to do, or somebody to stop them(Creator never gives the situations we can’t overcome),but at the beginning they didn’t care about Hitler and later already didn’t dare to stop Hitler.So Hitler( Stalin,Mao etc.,) saw that their not good use of Ratzon Lekkabbel didn’t meet opposition and even got the surport in some like themselves( those using Ratzon Lekkabbel without Massakh) and let their instinctual drives and irrational wishes to overcome their Spiritual Nature and one Hitler-boy-cell which lost its human genome started to multiple himself by combining with other lost genomes by giving them the example of malignant cell multiplation, which in spirituality degradetion( as well as elevation) goes by the facinating rate of 2, 4, 16,256 etc.,=At the beginning it isn’t good then it bad, then it is very bad and finally it is EVIL.
    WE call this avalanche-Hitler(Stalin, Mao etc.,)- EVIL, but Hitler- boy’s only part in all this snow-slip was that he let his piece of Ratzon Lekkabbel to disobey the need to be corrected and structured and let it go as it go.One demon turned into tow, two into four, fpour into sixteen and so on.
    Now all of us if asked would say that they think they are quite good people,and why should we care how Hitler-boy became Hitler-Evil.To tell you the truth,Hitler- boy was also QUITE a good boy, if we take into concsideretion that all the children are very cruel, agressive creators.And grown-ups have their”children” supressed or not supressed in them, so the group with supressed “children” is “good” citizents and the group with not supressed “children” in them is Crimimals.So the REAL EVIL is our lack of responcibility and lack of awareness what will be with this “QUITE”-part in time to come.
    REAL EVIL is that instead of structuring our Ratzon Lekkabbel in the programm of Yesh out of Ain we leave it as Ain(nothing).We don’t make fuss about our small “sins”=because we are just human and when out of doing nothing with it, we turn into the animals( we like fairy tales…, but that was Pinnochio that prefered curcus to school and turned into the donkey) we Produce Next Hitler-Evil we say How the G-d could be possibly Tov and Maittiv when His World is full of Evil!!!.But as you see Creator created only Ratzon Lekkabbel and gave us credit that we’ll us it for becomimg His Co-Creators.
    Jewish people have that KABBALAH-FISH to eat our donkey flesh and help us to start to structure our Ratzon Lekkabbel according to right-spiritual genome-through learning Torah and Performing Mitzvot, if we don’t want to find ourselves in the next Evil-form of the authers of finnal decision for our sirroundings.
    Evil is our human innovation of trying to stay Ain out of Ain(nothing of nothing) while we are given the chance to become the real Duaghters and Sons Equel in their form to the Creator-Yesh fron Ain. The choice is up to us, and Angels and Demons are always for our service.

  9. Our positive thoughts, words, actions and especially prayers, blessings and performing Mitzvot creat the bestowing form of Ratzon Lekkabel and as we said are called Angels, but the opposite side of this processes creat Demons, now why is it so important to remember? It is because many of us before coming to kabbalah and starting the process of correction had rather ” not very bright past” and we are surrounded by armies of all level of dangerous Demons, wether we feel it or not.

    And we expect that right after we dicided to start ” new Life” things will change, and they do not. It is because we have a lot of Demons to turn in to Angels.

    The problem is that when we are given a piece of Ratzon Lekkabel it is a certain level of difficulty to overcome it, but when it was failed and turned into Demon- alMenat Lekkabel, we have to work much harder than we would have had if we had done the correction by the “rules”.

    But we have to remember that our “past” isn’t our fault, it was the Creator’s wish for us to “fall” and it is for our benefit, because when we correct it , it turns in a bigger light than it could had been turned at the first time.

    Don’t get me wrong and think that we have to sin and then to correct, we speak about the life before we came to Kabbalah, brom now and then we have a double work to do: we have to correct our past and we have to deal with the currect situations.And we are not so good trained as to think it is an easy job, in each and every step we need Creator’s help, and we overcome some amount of our Demons and all of the sudden there is next bundle of them and this process sometime seems endless and very dipressing, but hold tired there IS the light at the end of the tinnel, and not the one of after death experience.

    We have to repare everything we have damiged, we can’t leave this job to our children, because they are even more lower parts of Ratzon Lekkabel, and they have a lot of their own problems to deal with, they don’t need our debts.

    And by seeing us fighting for the better future they learn to be Creator’s co-creators, and to be ready to join us in the wish to be the first to start the process of paying debts and not leaving them to the next generations.

    We have to remember that when the Torah says that if we don’t follow our role in this would we bring the curse to three and even four generations, it is not the punishment as some of us think, but these are those demons left and fight our children and prevent them from spiritual development.
    So nobody of us know exactly how many demons he /she created in this world, and we won’t waste our time to try to count them and to determine their complexity, what we are going to do is to ask the Creator to help us to turn them into the Angels which will protect next thousand generations to come as promised by Torah, through our example of the spiritual behavior towards the given purpose.

    Doesn’t matter what we beging from, what matters where we end, and how many dark forces born by us we turn into light which is of the strongest qualities of being able to protect thousand of coming generation.

    Don’t miss your chance to get out of the endless rings of Demons surrounding you, because it is them that stands in your way to success, love and happiness, and use your chance to insure your children and loved ones the most effective protection into years to come- the endless rings of Angels which will be always for you and your children and your country and the whole world when it comes to experiences, difficulties and structuring of the Ratzon Lekkabel into the the Ratzon Lehashpiah on the deepest levels of our inner wish for selfrealization and inability to get it in a right form -through connection with the Creator by the similarity of the form.

  10. yehudith says:

    There is an explanation of what the angels are given by Rabbi Stuart Shiff in his lecture on Essence of Kabbalah Thought on

  11. yehudith says:

    Some very good explanation which is found in
    Rav Adin Syeinsaltz’s article
    Worlds, Angels, and Men
    (an extract, the whole article is posted under “corporial and spiritual worlds”)

    ( The world of Action-Assi’ya, the world of Rormation-Yetzirra)

    The World of Formation is a world of sentience. The beings that populate it are pure, abstract manifestations of what we, in our world, would call emotions or feelings. These beings, or creatures, operate in a similar fashion to the way we do in the World of Action. They are called “angels.”

    There are millions of angels, and each of them possesses its own unique character. No two are alike. The distinctive personality of a particular angel is a function of two features, which can be termed “content” and “degree.” The content is the specific feeling or emotion, of which the angel is a pure manifestation, and the degree is its position on the scale of fundamental causality. An angel may thus be an inclination, or impulse, toward love, fear, pity, and so on, at this or that degree. However, each of these contents is subdivided into an almost infinite number of related feelings (no two loves are the same), and angels thus fall into large groups. Such a group is called a “camp of angels.”

    Another characteristic feature of angels, one that distinguishes them from humans, is the fact that they are unchanging. Circumstance, time, place, and even mood alter the content and the intensity of most human emotions. However, whereas emotion is ultimately secondary to our existence, it is primary and essential to angels. An angel is by definition the constant, unchanging manifestation of a single emotion or feeling.

    It would be quite misleading, however, to regard angels as abstractions, as hypothetical conceptualizations of emotions that have no real existence. Each angel is a complete being that possesses consciousness of itself and awareness of its surroundings. It is able to act and create within the framework of its existence, the World of Formation. A characteristic feature of angels is implicit in their Hebrew name, which mean “messenger.” In fact, the task of angels is mediation, to maintain two-way communications between our world, the World of Action, and the higher worlds. They serve as emissaries of God in bringing divine plenty down into the world, and of men, in raising up certain consequences of our actions.

    Men and angels belong to separate categories of existence. Even if we ignore the human body and look only at our apparently more angelic aspect, the soul, the differences are great. The human soul is a heterogeneous, complex entity composed of distinct elements, whereas an angel is homogeneous, a single essence, and thus ultimately unidimensional. Furthermore, the human being, by virtue of the multiplicity of facets in his personality, with the implicit capacity for internal contradictions and conflicts, and by virtue of his soul, which contains a spark of the divine, possesses the power of discrimination, in particular between good and evil. As a consequence, man had the potential to reach great heights, and also to fall to abysmal depths. Not so the angels, which are always the same. Whether an angel is ephemeral or eternal, it is static and remains fixed in the coordinates of content and degree in which it was created.

    Some angels have existed since the beginning of time, and are the channels through which divine plenty flows into the world. There is, however, another kind of angel, those that are constantly being created. This process of the creation of new angels takes place as a consequence of actions and phenomena that are performed and occur in all worlds, but especially in our world, the World of Action.

    It is said that with every mitzvah, every good deed that he performs, a man creates an angel. In order to understand this, it is necessary to envisage each such act, or prayer, as being an operation on two levels.
    The first level is behavioral; it is the initiating or bringing about or completing of a transformation–no matter how small–in the physical world. The other level is spiritual and involves the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and mystical meditations that should accompany the performance of the external act. These spiritual actions coalesce and form a discrete spiritual entity, which possesses objective reality, and which, in turn, creates an angel in the World of Formation. Thus, by means of the mitzvot he performs, man extends the realm in which his activity is effective from the lower to the upper worlds. He creates angels, which are, in manner of speaking, his messengers in the higher worlds. Whereas a newly created angel retains its essential bond with its human originator in the World of Action, it acquires reality only in the World of Formation. In this way, the spiritual content of the holy deed, by becoming an angel, rises and initiates changes in the upper worlds, and especially in the World of Formation, the world immediately superior to our own. In fact, the nature of the World Formation is determined by the relationships between the angels and between them and the worlds above them, and they, in turn, influence these higher world too.

    The angels who serve as emissaries of God and the upper worlds down to our world are apprehended by men in a wide and sometimes strange variety of forms. The reasons for this is that as the angels derive from a totally foreign world of being, they are invisible to man in their “true” forms, for the human sense organs, and faculties of comprehension, are incapable of grasping them. Some kind of “translation” is necessary before they can be seen. A useful analogy is that of a television transmission. The electromagnetic carrier waves are of a frequency that is totally invisible to the human nervous system, which in fact is incapable even of detecting their existence. However, when these waves are processed by the television receiver, the information and signals they bear are translated and become visible on the screen. There is, of course, no resemblance between the electromagnetic waves and the picture, as there is none between the true form of the angel and what is perceived.

    The Kabbalah describes such a process as “clothing in garments” or “containing in vessels.” The garments and the vessels are remote perceptible manifestations of the unknowable essence. This is the form in which angels appear to men.

    Such manifestations generally take place in one of two situations: one is the vision of a man who has attained a high level of holiness, such as a prophet; the other is in an isolated incident of enlightenment or revelation from the higher worlds experienced by a more ordinary person. In either case, the person involved experiences the reality of the angel as it is clothed in garments. Even so, frequently the form of this manifestation is of a degree of existence that is not easily processed by the human mind, and especially by that part that involves verbal communication, and the descriptions offered are occasionally strange and fantastic. Given the cultural limitations of our linguistic skills, it is natural that many such images will be, to some degree or another, anthropomorphic. The visionary images one finds in the prophetic works, such as winged animals or eyed chariots, are secondary human translation of undescribable phenomena. When Ezekiel describes the angel that he saw as possessing the face of an ox, it does not mean that the angel had a face at all, let alone a bovine one, but that one aspect of its inner essence, when translated and projected into our physical reality, is expressed in a form that shows a conceptual likeness to the face of an ox.

    All articulated prophetic visions are, in fact, depictions in comprehensible human language of abstract, formless, spiritual realities. There are, notwithstanding, cases in which angels are manifest in “ordinary” form, are clothed in familiar material garments, and appear to be natural phenomena; on such occasions, the viewer will encounter difficulties in deciding whether an apparition or a natural object stands before him, whether the pillar of fire or the man he perceives belongs to this world, with its own system of natural causality, or to another. Furthermore, the angel, that is, the force sent from a higher world, may not only be manifest in the physical world, but may also appear to act according to, and be governed by, the laws of nature, either totally or to a limited degree. In such cases, only prophetic insight can determine whether, and to what extent, higher forces are active.

    The fact that a man can create an angel, which is instantaneously transposed to another world, is not, in itself, a supernatural event; it is a part of a day-to-day way of life that can on occasion seem ordinary and commonplace-the life of mitzvot. When we perform an action that results in the creation of an angel, we are generally aware of no more than that we are acting on, and within, the physical world. Similarly, the appearance of an angel does not necessarily involve a deviation from the normal laws of physical nature. Man is thus in close contact with the upper worlds, and though the actual route, the nature of the link, is hidden, the fact of the relationship is as axiomatic as the duality of his body and soul, of matter and spirit. Man does not pause to wonder every time he moves from the physical to the spiritual part of the World of Action, and takes for granted the occasional penetration of higher worlds into our world. When we use the word “natural” in its widest possible meaning, that is, comprehending everything that we experience and know, the appearance and creation of angels are not “supernatural” phenomena.

  12. yehudith says:

    by Rav Adin Steinsaltz

    ( The opposide of Angels are Devils or Demons,
    extract from the article “Worlds,Angels,and Men”
    the full article is posted under the “Corporial and Spiritual worlds”)

    …In addition to the physical and spiritual parts just described, the World of Action contains many other ethereal or spiritual realms, which differ widely from each other in both their content and their spiritual significance. On the one hand, there are the realms of the various manifestations of human wisdom and creativity, such as philosophy, mathematics, poetry, and art, which are all ultimately “neutral” as regards their spiritual orientation. On the other hand, there are realms that possess a distinct spiritual charge, which may be either positive or negative. Furthermore, just as man can relate to various physical and spiritual features of the World of Action and thereby raise himself in the direction of holiness, so can he tie himself to the realms of the unholy, and move and act in them. These are the realms of evil, in the most general sense of the word, and are known by their Hebrew name, Kelippot (singular, Kelippah), which means husks.

    The Kelippot, like the worlds of holiness, have their own “mansions,” and are arranged in an inverted hierarchy, with the evil becoming more intense and distinct as one descends. They are, in their own way, all related to the World of Action. In fact, it can be said that our world, to the extent that it is neutral in its spiritual orientation, belongs to the realm of the Kelippot, more specifically to the one known as Kelippat Noga. This is a level of existence that contains all things that are not intrinsically directed either to the holy or the evil. Although it is neutral, when a man sinks into it entirely and does not, or cannot, disentangle himself from it, he fails to fulfill his specific human destiny and is wanting at the core of his being.

    The relationships between the realms of the Kelippot are to a certain degree similar to those obtaining in the higher worlds. Thus, between each successive level, there are translations and replications of the mode of existence, and the manifestations of each are expressed in the same three dimensions: space, time, and being. The Kelippot are inhabited by ethereal beings, a species of angels known as destructive, or subversive, angels, or alternatively as devils, demons, or evil spirits. Like the holy angels, they all have their own individual personalities, which are defined in terms of their particular unchanging content and their degree. Corresponding to the angels of love-in-holiness and awe-in-holiness are the destructive angels of love-in-wickedness and awe-in-wickedness. Furthermore, some of these destructive angels are ephemeral; that is, they are created by man’s actions, whereas others are eternal, or rather, they came into existence with the world and will continue to exist until evil is finally vanquished. Each evil deed that a man performs brings into being a destructive angel, which, in turn, has its effect in the deeper realms of the Kelippot. Nevertheless, there is a substantial difference between the two systems. There is obviously no equivalent in the Kelippot to the World of Emanation. Evil has no independent, ontological existence, and its direct source of nourishment is the World of Action; indirectly, it is sustained from the higher worlds. By performing an evil deed, a man not only creates a destructive angel that will accompany him and be bound to him as part of his ambience, but he actually diverts the divine plenty into the upper realms of evil, whence it is dragged down to the deepest Kelippot.

    The eternal destructive angels are the messengers that mediate between the various realms of evil, just as the holy angels move up and down in the upper worlds. Destructive angels are manifest in our world by means of “clothing in garments,” and they appear in ethereal or material forms that are sometimes as bizarre and strange as those of the holy angels. These destructive angels are the tempters who try to incite man to evil by bringing the idea of wickedness to our realm, of existence; in return, they receive the diverted divine plenty. They also serve as the instruments by which a sinner is punished. Just as the reward received by the righteous man or the saint is an extension of his good deeds, so the retribution for shortcomings is part and parcel of the sin itself. In this life, punishment is no more than to be held in close contact with the evil one has created, in a variety of manifestations and translations-bodily and mental torment, despair and anguish, and failure.

    One of the most severe forms of punishment is the “mansion” of the Kelippot known as Hell. When a man dies, his soul is separated from his body and relates only to the ethereal beings, which he created and with which he was associated in his lifetime. The soul finds its level. In the case of a great sinner, this will be in the company of the destructive angels he created, who will punish him for bringing them into existence, until the full measure of remorse is exhausted. But even this extreme retribution is not extrinsic, for it is an organic continuation of the actual sins committed.

    Though the destructive angels are manifestations and the messengers of evil, they are also part of the totality of existence. Like the entire system of Kelippot, to which they belong, they are not optimal, but they do fulfill an essential role in maintaining a certain balance in the cosmos, by deterring men from slipping deeper into evil. Were evil to be banished from the world, they would disappear, for ultimately they are parasites on men and cannot exist without his wickedness. But as long as man uses his power of choice to do evil, they feed off, incite, and punish him. In this sense, the existence of destructive angels is conditional, rather like a police force, which is necessary only as long as there is crime.

    The fact remains, however, that far from disappearing, the destructive angels are growing stronger and more powerful, as evil waxes in the world. Their ontological status is no longer clear, and far from being mere instruments of deterrence within the total system of existence, they appear to be independent beings acting in their own terms of reference, subjects of a sovereign realm of evil.

    The significance of man’s role in Creation is thus immense. When the day comes that we free ourselves from the overwhelming temptations to sin, the entire system of evil will fall back into its proper dimensions. Those aspects of it that came into being as a consequence of man’s deeds-the ephemeral destructive angels-will disappear, while the eternal structural elements, which now serve as deterrents, will assume a new, entirely different role. That which now appears to be evil will be reintegrated into holiness.

  13. Ki Tavo(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)
    An Old Ode to Joy
    by Rav Ari Kahn

    There is an interesting subtext to this week’s parsha, a concept that links what at first glance seem to be independent and unrelated teachings. The idea is joy.

    The last mention of joy in the parsha may be the most instructive. The end of the parsha contains a long rebuke, a section of tochecha that points up the failings of the Jewish People and the punishments associated with those failings. Included in this section is a list of terrible curses that will result from a most surprising “sin”:

    And all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue you and overtake you, until you are destroyed; because you did not hearken to the voice of your God, the Almighty, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. [These curses] shall be a sign and for a proof to you and your descendents forever; because you did not serve the Almighty your God with joy and gladness of heart when you enjoyed an abundance of all things. (Devarim 28:45-48)

    Lack of joy, not serving God with joy, lies at the very core of all the horrific curses listed in this section.

    Earlier in the parsha, joy is addressed in an independent context:

    And Moshe and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying: ‘Keep every commandment which I command you today. (Devarim 27:1)

    The people would soon cross the Jordan and enter the Land of Israel, and Moshe commands them to build an altar and bring offerings when they cross over into the Promised Land. They are commanded to eat of the offerings, and they are commanded to be happy:

    And when you cross the Jordan, set up these stones, which I command you today, on Mount Eval, and plaster them with plaster. There you shall build an altar to the Almighty your God. It shall be an altar of stones, and you shall lift up no iron tool upon them. The altar you build to the Almighty your God shall be made of whole (unhewn) stones, and on this altar you shall sacrifice burnt-offerings to the Almighty your God. You shall sacrifice peace-offerings, and eat there, and rejoice before the Almighty your God. Upon the stones, you shall write all the words of this Torah in a clear way. (Devarim 27:4-8)

    The first mention of joy in our parsha is at the outset. The Torah describes the farmer who toils through the long winter. When his arduous work has paid off, he makes his way to Jerusalem bearing the produce with which he has been blessed. The ritual through which he thanks God for the abundance the land has yielded focuses him on remembrance, from the birth of the Jewish People through the enslavement and exodus from Egypt, leading him to this moment in which the promises to our forefathers have come to fruition through his own personal fortune. The individual farmer is encouraged to see his own joy in the context of Jewish history, and to take pleasure in the present; he is instructed – even commanded – to experience joy:

    ‘And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the land, which You, O God, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Almighty your God, and bow down before the Almighty your God. And you, and the Levite, and the stranger in your midst, shall rejoice in all the good which the Almighty your God has given to you and to your family. (Devarim 26:10-11)

    So much of this seems strange to us: How can the Torah command an emotion? Surely it is difficult to implement such a commandment. And yet, this emotional commandment appears three times in the parsha, and apparently the commandments are geared toward creating joy; when the commandment to rejoice is ignored, terrible things happen.

    It may be easier to understand the commandment to rejoice if we understand the nature of commandments in general: if we understand what a mitzvah is, the mitzvah of joy may seem less strange.

    The kabbalists understood that the word mitzvah is closely related to the Tetragrammaton, the four-lettered Name of God. They point out that the last two letters of these words are identical, while the first two letters appear unrelated – but only to the untrained eye. A widely-used kabbalistic code, known as atbash,(1) is traditionally applied to problems of this sort. In this formula, the first letter of the alphabet is replaced for the last letter, the second letter with the second-to-last, and so on.(2) The result of using this formula is that the first two letters in the word “mitzvah” mem and tzadi are the equivalent of yud and heh, the first two letters of God’s name. Hence, hidden within every mitzvah is an affirmation of the existence of God.(3) Kabbalistic traditions(4) notwithstanding, this is a logical construct: the word mitzvah means commandment. Implicit in the very language is an acknowledgement that there is Superior Being who commands.(5)

    There is, however, another tradition regarding the word ‘mitzvah’ and the concepts this word represents: the word is not a derivative of the root tzav – command, but of the word tzavta, which means ‘together.'(6) As a person performs a mitzvah, their thoughts should be focused on two distinct aspects of mitzvah: I behave as I do as an expression of subjugation to the Will of God who commanded that I do so; but also, at the very moment that I perform the mitzvah, I am at one with God, in unison with God. This togetherness transforms the master/slave relationship. This additional meaning of mitzvah gives rise to the realization that the ultimate goal of the commandments is to create a relationship with God that goes beyond mindless, even grudging obedience. Observance of God’s commandments without an awareness of this other level of meaning can leave some adherents feeling like slaves, which might lead to feelings of humiliation and depression. Instead, when we perform mitzvot we should feel that God is with us, that we have been given the opportunity to join in a great undertaking, to walk down the path of history in step with our Creator. This understanding must necessarily lead to feelings of elation, gratitude – and joy.(7)

    In Parshat Ki Tavo, Moshe prepares to take leave of his nation. He – and they – know that he will perish and be buried on the east side of the Jordan while they continue the journey to the Promised Land without him. Moshe instructs them to keep the commandments; if they do, they will never be alone. God will be with them wherever they go. This realization must bring them all great comfort, great hope – and great joy: the joy of performing a mitzvah, the joy of being together with God.


    1. See Tikunei Zohar 131b.

    2. See Rav Moshe Cordovera, Pardes Rimonim Sha’ar 30, chapter 5.

    3. See Migdal Oz of the Ya’avetz, Beit Midot, Aliyat HaK’tiva, Ohr Hachaim Vayikra 18:4, 19:2, Ben Yohayada Brachot 6a.

    4. See Shela Hakodesh, Yoma, Perek Derekh Haim 17, who describes a very saintly kabbalist who attributed his spiritual success to his life-long practice of visualizing the name of God constantly. This image kept him away from sin, and guided him in along a reighteous path in all aspects of his life.

    5. The section which immediately precedes the commandment of the first fruits and the joy which should be experienced, is the section describing the battle against Amalek. Significantly, this section describes Amalek’s transgression as having caused God’s name to be “divided.” See Rashi, Shmot 17:16. For more on God’s name being encoded or hidden see, see Talmud Bavli Pesachim 50a.

    6. See Shla Hakadosh, Yoma, Perek Derekh Haim 16, in the name of the (Tikunei) Zohar.

    7. The Arizal, one of the greatest kabbalists who ever lived, claimed that all of his spiritual achievements were the result of performing commandments with joy. See Shela Hakodesh, Yoma, Perek Derekh Haim 20.

  14. Nitzavim(Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)
    The Choice of LIfe Over Death
    by Rav Yehonasan Gefen

    “See I have placed before you life and good, and death and evil(1) … I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse; and you shall choose life so that you and your offspring will live.” (2)

    The Torah tells us that God has given us a clear choice, the ability to choose life and good, or death and evil, and it is this choice that is the foundation of our capacity to serve God effectively. However, there seems to be a difficulty with the choice outlined in the verse; the Torah says that there are two pairs of choices, one between good and evil, and one between life and death. In giving us these options, it is evident that we have the ability and inclination to choose either direction. With regard to good and evil this dichotomy is easily understood; a person will find himself in many situations in life where there will be a strong temptation for him to choose what the Torah defines as ‘evil’, because at times the wrong choice seems to be the one that will provide happiness and satisfaction. Thus, the Torah tells us that we are constantly faced with a free will battle to choose good or evil.

    What is far more difficult to understand is that the Torah sees that there is a difficult ‘choice’ to be made between life and death, implying that a person has a realistic inclination to choose death over life. Surely, no one will ever find it difficult to choose life over death, there is no temptation to choose death! Accordingly, why is the choice between life and death such a difficult one to make?

    Rav Noach Weinberg, of blessed memory, explains that when the Torah talks about ‘death’ it does not simply mean the state of not being alive. The Torah is warning us against what death represents. In order to understand what death means we need to develop our understanding of its opposite; ‘life’. When the Torah talks about life it does not merely mean breathing, rather life is the process of growing in one’s Divine Service and working on one’s character.

    Being alive means directly facing the challenges that life presents and using them to become a bigger person. Accordingly, choosing ‘death’ can mean avoiding dealing with those challenges and opting to escape the difficult opportunities that one faces throughout his life. Death is the choice of comfort over effort, of an easy life over a life full of challenge and growth. With this understanding it is easy to comprehend how choosing ‘life’ over ‘death’ constitutes a very difficult choice.

    It is important to note that choosing death is not limited to failure to observe the mitzvot. A person can observe the Torah and simultaneously choose ‘death’; if he is not striving to improve himself, and not fighting his yetzer hara, (negative inclination) then he is choosing the comfortable option that is akin to a form of ‘death’. What is frightening is that a person may not be completely aware that he is making this choice and can live his life on ‘cruise control’. If he never really pushes himself to further develop his relationship with God, to pray with more intent, to be a better husband or father and so on, then he is choosing the comfortable option.

    On a slightly deeper level, the choice between comfort and challenge is, in fact the choice between associating with one’s body or soul. Life is a constant struggle between these two contradictory forces that pull us in opposite directions. The body wants to return to the ground from where it came; this manifests itself in a desire to lie down, rest, and experience enjoyable and ‘comfortable’ pleasures. In contrast, the soul wants to return to the Heavens from where it originated. This pull is represented by a desire to expand and grow. Thus, each person is constantly faced with these conflicting forces pulling him in opposite directions. The Torah in this week’s Torah Portion tells him that in order to succeed in his life purpose he must choose life.

    by Rav Zev Leff
    ( an extract from the article)

    There is yet another aspect of confession that relates to the nature of sin itself. Sin, says the Maharal, is only incidental to the soul of the Jew. It cannot blemish the soul itself. Rather it superimposes layers of impurity that separate one from his essence. Since the Jew’s connection to God is through that untainted essence, when he becomes distant from his essence, he also becomes estranged from God.

    Teshuva, then, is the return of the Jew to his essence and the breakdown of the barriers that separate him from God. God does not leave the Jew when he sins; rather the Jew loses contact with God, Who still resides within the essence of his soul. As the Sages say on the verse, “I am asleep, but my heart is awake” (Song of Songs 5:2), “my heart” refers to God. Though the Jew sleeps and loses consciousness of God, God still occupies his heart.

    By articulating his sin in the “Vidui” confession, the Jew makes it something external to himself. Then he is able to detach those layers of sin that have accreted on his soul. Vidui itself becomes an act of purification. Thus, Targum Yonasan translates the word “purify” in the verse “Before God should you purify yourself” (Leviticus 16:30), as “confess.” The confession is itself the act of purification.

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