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Shema-Terumah-All Our Hearts

The divine soul of man is transmitted and descends to this world to be clothed in a human body, through the mystery of speech. This is the supernal Breath, regarding which it is written, “And God breathed into man’s nostrils, a soul of life, and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).” Whoever exhales, does so from his innermost being.


It is also written, “For a part of God is His people, Jacob, the cord of His possession (Deuteronomy 32:9).” Jacob is compared to a cord, where one end is bound above, and the other end below.

We can learn an important lesson from this simple meaning of the verse, “He breathed into his nostrils.” When a person blows on something, if there is a barrier or an obstruction separating the two, his breath cannot reach that place at all. The same is actually true when there is something separating and intervening between man’s body and the Supernal Breath.

Of course, nothing physical or spiritual can actually act as a barrier before God’s Essence. It is thus written, “Do I not fill heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24),” and, “The whole earth is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3).” We are also taught that, “There is no place empty of Him,” “in the heavens above, and on the earth below, there is nothing else (Deuteronomy 4:39),” and, “He fills all universes (Zohar III:255a).”

The concept of separation, however, is declared by the prophet, “Only your sins separate you from your Lord (Isaiah 59:2).” This is because sin goes against the Supreme Will. It is this Will that gives Life Force to all things, as it is written, “All that God wills, He does, in heaven and in earth (Psalms 135:6).” [Use as Kavanah when reciting Psalm 135 in Shabbat Morning Pesukei D’Zimrah]

This is the concept of a soul “cut off from its people,” in the case of a number of particularly serious sins. The “cord” of the soul, which transmits spiritual sustenance from God’s Name, is “cut off” and detached. It is thus written, “That soul shall be cut off from before Me. I am God (Leviticus 22:3).” The verse stresses that the soul is “cut off from before Me.”

Even though there are sins that do not bear a penalty of cutting off, they still cause a blemish in the soul, as is well known. “Blemish,” is also used with reference to a knife  used for ritual slaughter. Such a blemish, or nick in the blade, makes the knife unfit for ritual use.

Returning to this analogy, we can look at the spiritual bond as a “cord” or rope made up of 613 strands. The “core” of transmission is thus made up of the 613 commandments of the Torah. When one of these commandments is violated, heaven forbid, the corresponding strand is broken. Even if a person violates the commandment that carries a penalty of, “cut off,” or death, however, his body still has the strength from the impression left by his divine soul. As a result, he can leave 50 or 60 years even under such a penalty. He cannot live any longer than this, however.

This, however, was only true when Israel was on a high plane, when the Divine Presence dwelt among them in the Holy Temple. At that time, their bodies received Life Force from the Divine Soul alone, from the innermost aspect of the Sustenance issuing from the Infinite Being through His Name.

But then, Israel fell from their high level, and through their sins, caused the exile of the Divine Presence. This is alluded to in the verse, “Through your sins, your Mother was expelled (Isaiah 50:1).” “Mother,” here alludes to the Influence that descends in sequence, step-by-step, to give Life Force to every living thing in the physical world. This also gives Life Force to every plant, as our sages teach us, “There is no blade of grass down below, that does not have a spirit on high (Bereishit Rabbah 10:6).”

Therefore, even one who sins and deliberately transgresses can receive Life Force for his body and animal soul, but he receives it in a manner no different than any other animal. Regarding such people it is therefore written, “They are counterparts of the beasts they resemble (Psalms 49:12).” [Use as Kavanah in Shabbat Minchah; “Tzidkatecha.”

Actually, Life Force is granted to such people with greater emphasis and force, as explained in the Zohar. All the sustenance and Life Force that is granted to the physical man at the time and moment when he is committing evil in God’s eyes, whether in deed, speech or thought, all is transmitted to him from the domain of the Other Side, as also explained in the Zohar there (Volume II:220b).

Man thus has free choice. He can draw his sustenance from the domain of the Other Side, or he can draw it from the Domain of Holiness, from which emanates every good, holy thought.

It is written, “For one opposing the other did the Lord make (Ecclesiastes 7:14).” The domain of the Other Side thus parallels that of the Side of Holiness. The Other Side derives its Life Force from the sustenance that descends and is clothed in the concept of the “Glowing Husk.” This Husk contains both good and evil. This is the mystery of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as is known to those who probe such mysteries.

This is the significance of the verse, “Jacob, the cord of His possession.” The analogy is a cord, with one end on high and the other down below. When one and is pulled, the other also moves and follows it, at least to the extent that it can be drawn.

The same is literally true of the Root of man’s soul. Through his evil deeds and thoughts, a person can “pull” it and degrade it until it enters the domain of the Other Side, since it is from there that he derives his thoughts and deeds. He is therefore the one who transmits their influence, and for this reason he receives the portion with greater emphasis and force. This should be enough for one who understands. (Tanya, Iggeret haTeshuvah 5,6)

“You shall love God, your Lord, with all your hearts.” The Tabernacle and Temple offer to us a connection to the Domain of Holiness, so that we can derive our spiritual sustenance from the place of Good. When we realize that even when we sin, we continue to derive our Life Force from good that is clothed in the Glowing Husk, we can use that Life Force to reconnect ourselves to the Domain of Holiness, and detach ourselves from the Other Side. This detachment from the Other Side is considered loving God with our Evil Inclination.

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