H E S E V E N B R A N C H E S
Based on Likutei
Torah and Sefer Hamaamarim Melukat 5:295
you raise up the flames—the seven flames should shine toward the face
of the menorah" (Numbers 8:2).
A soul is called a flame. The nature of a flame is to soar upward; it
strives to unite with its source—the original element of fire.
soul too is driven upward—to be consumed in its source. This is its nature. Like
a son yearns for his father so the soul yearns for G-d.
But in the souls
of the lower worlds—Biya—this drive is concealed. When these souls descend
into the physical world and cloak themselves in a physical body—their vision is
corrupted. These souls are compared to animals who gravitate downward toward earthliness.
contrast, the souls of the highest world Atzilut, retain their heavenward drive
even as they exist in the lowest world. Their thirst for the Divine is manifest
within them. [See our essay on Mishpatim
for a more elaborate discussion of the two types of souls.]
is one of the seven shepherds of Israel whose task it is to nurture the Flock.
Aharon is commanded to awaken and reveal the yearning and love that lies dormant
within the lower souls—to “raise the flames.”
souls—are mentioned twice in the above verse: flames and seven flames.
Seven flames refers to the seven types of souls:
- The soul that serves G-d with a love like flowing water (Chesed);
soul that serves G-d with a love like fire (Gevurah);
- The soul
that serves G-d with Torah, the middle column [Tiferet];
- The soul that serves G-d with the attribute of victory, to be
victorious and overcome [challenges] in
matters of turn from evil and do good [Netzach];
- The soul that serves G-d through acknowledgement [Hod];
- The soul that serves G-d
through exaltedness, as in the verse His heart was uplifted in the ways
of G-d [Yesod?];
- The soul that serves G-d
with humility [Malchut].
truth every person is a complete menorah comprised of all seven attributes. However,
each person emphasizes a different aspect of the menorah. It is possible for a
person to have only one of his lamps lit and yet he does not realize the lights
are out. He thinks he is bathed in light. (Sichat 13 Tamuz 5722.)
does not allow for an elaboration on all the seven attributes, we will therefore
suffice with an elaboration of Netzach, victory.
ten sefirot are divided into three columns: right, left and center, or, giving,
restraint and synthesis. The right side includes Chochmah, creativity, Chesed,
kindness, and Netzach, victory.
three attributes represent three modes of giving: giving that is motivated by
the intellect—you recognize the virtue, beauty or awesomeness of a certain thing
and so you are inspired to give; giving that is motivated by emotion—you love
therefore you give; and giving that lacks an intellectual or emotional base and
is done with a “stubbornness”—despite lack of inspiration. In the final case,
the soul’s attribute of giving has permeated only the realm of action, not the
intellect or emotions.
This is called
Netzach, victory, since it is the powerful desire to win and succeed that drives
us when all other inspiration is lost. (The last four sefirot in general are called
“functional” or “active” sefirot).
who serves G-d with Netzach is one who may lack inspiration but continues to do
what he knows to be right with a “stubbornness” and a refusal to be dissuaded
by seemingly insurmountable odds. See Likutei Torah on Tazria
Two Levels of Soul
The souls are divided in seven
only when we define them as servants of G-d: “I was created to serve my Creator”
(end of Kidushin). When their identity is no more than their role
in serving G-d, there are seven types, since there are seven ways to serve G-d.
the soul exists on a higher level, where it is not a means to any other end—even
to serve G-d—aside for itself. This is the soul as it exists with the Divine essence,
like a child that exists in the brain of the father.
The soul was created
to serve its Creator—but as it exists beyond the level of creation, before it
descends to Beriah, it is a part of G-d and exists for itself.
On this level
the souls are called flames—not seven flames—since they are not
defined by their respective roles in the Divine service.
Yet Aharon is to
raise both flames—the seven flames and the flames. Because the essence of the
soul—the nondescript flame—is elevated by the elevation of the soul in its earthly
descent. The essence of the soul is revealed and brought to the fore through challenges
that the soul encounters in its descent.
In the haftorah
of this week’s Torah reading we read about the vision of Zechariah, in which he
says, I saw a menorah entirely of gold…this is the word of G-d to Zerubavel…
name Zerubavel is a contraction of zarua b’bavel—“planted in Bavel (Babylonia).”
This refers to the Jewish people who were exiled in Bavel at the time.
its literal meaning, Zerubavel is a person. The Alter Rebbe interprets the name
kabblistically to refer to the Jewish people in general. Zerubavel, the man, was
the one who led the construction of the second temple. He was a member of the
Anshei Kenesset Hagedolah, the Great Assembly. He was called Zerubavel because
he was implanted (in his mother’s womb) in Bavel. See Sanhedrin 38a.]
is the connection between the menorah and “planted in bavel”?
descent into exile is called planting because planting is done for the purpose
of abundant growth. The produce will far exceed the amount planted. Similarly,
the descent into exile is for the purpose of an ascent. It is through the descent
into exile and its challenges that the essence of the soul is brought to the fore.
The Jewish people
are therefore called “planted in Bavel” in connection with the menorah. This suggests,
firstly, that even while they are in exile they are a menorah. Furthermore, the
descent into exile is a planting that generates a far greater quantity of produce.
Bavel, the flames of the human menorah—not just the seven flames—are
raised to new and unimaginable heights.
by Rabbi Yossi Marcus firstname.lastname@example.org.]
[The Seven Shepherds and Eight Princes:
Micah (5:4) prophesies that “This shall assure peace: If Assyria will come into
our land and if he will tread upon our palaces, we will erect against him seven
shepherds and eight princes.” The Talmud (Sukkah 52b) identifies these shepherds
and princes: “Who are these seven shepherds? Dovid in the middle, Adam, Seth,
and Mesushelach on his right, and Avraham, Yaakov, and Moshe on his left. And
who are the eight princes? Yishai, Shaul, Shmuel, Amos, Tzefaniah, Tzidkiyah,
Moshiach, and Eliyahu.”