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So What-Vayechi-Hamachazir Neshamot

“The time approached for Israel to die (Genesis 47:29).” The Ari haKadosh writes as follows: You know that the souls have been divided up into numerous “sparks” of sanctity. These are destined to inhabit human beings on their various appearances on earth. The length of time a person lives on earth is directly related to how many of the sparks of sanctity, also known as Tzelem, inhabit his body. Every day such a person performs God’s commandments the condition of one of these “sparks” is enhanced, thus strengthening such a person’s Tzelem. Every day that such a person does not perform God’s commandment his Tzelem suffers damage because one of the sparks has been damaged.


We can now understand what the Talmud (Berachot 57) meant when it stated that sleep is equivalent to 1/60 of death. It means that every day one of these sparks escapes the body when a person goes to sleep. Such a loss of the spark is not clearly noticed by the soul as something absolute, however; the “spark” is merely detached from the main body of the soul and becomes intertwined with the lower form of the soul known as Nefesh, life force. It is an act of kindness by God that every “spark” which acquired a merit on a particular day through the performance of a mitzvah by the person whom it inhabits is further removed from loss of vitality in spite of the fact that said person may commit sins subsequently thereby producing defective “sparks.” Moreover, when the errant person repents his sin enables such sparks to be restored to their original level of vitality. All of this is part of the various ways in which God demonstrates His kindness toward us. (Ohr Hachaim haKadosh)

“My Lord; the soul You placed within me is pure.” “Who restores souls to dead bodies.”

We can use this blessing to connect to the special “Spark” we have been granted for this specific day, and to express our gratitude for the opportunity to repair “damaged sparks.”

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