Morning Blessings: Ramak: Garments of the Soul
The 23rd of Tammuz is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe (ben Yaakov) Cordovero (Remak) (1522-1570). The Remak was the son of Rav Yaakov, one of the exiles from Cardova, Spain. He studied under the great kabbalists Rav Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz (who would become his brother-in-law) and Rav Yosef Karo. Rav Chaim Vital was among his greatest talmidim. He was the author of Tomer Devora and Pardes Rimonim. In the latter book, he systematized all kabbalistic knowledge that had been revealed until then. In his sefer, Ohr Ne’erav, he explains the necessity of studying Kabbalah but also criticizes those who study this subject without prior Torah knowledge, pointing out that one must first study Torah, Mishna, and Gemara before studying Kabbalah. He also wrote a comprehensive commentary on the Zohar entitled Ohr Yakar, but it was not published for 400 years. Publication of this multi-volume work was finally begun in 1962 and completed in 1989. Although he served as Rosh Yeshiva and as a Dayan, his fame rests on his contribution to Kabbalistic literature and thought.
“Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Who clothes the naked.” When a soul departs this world she dresses herself in a garment of all of the mitzvot in which she toiled in this world. However, when the solo separates from the body during sleep, she has no garment at all.
We can compare this to a young woman who has a sizable dowry from her father plus close and money that she has earned on her own. She does not wear any of her close as long as she is not married. So too, this all; all that she accomplishes and earns is stored for her on till she leaves the body entirely and it is only on that day when she can wear her garments.
When we recite this blessing each morning we are acknowledging that each day we have an opportunity to create more garments for our soul at the time that she departs the body. (Tefillah l’Moshe)