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The Secret Of Happiness

Dear Reader, if you are looking to be happy, creative, in harmony with G-d and with the universe, Rabbi Avraham
Yitzhak Hakohen Kook has the answer - t'shuva.
For Rabbi Kook, t'shuva is a concept much deeper than the common understanding of repentance. It is much
more than penitence over sins and the remorse a person feels when he strays from the pathways of goodness
and truth. While t'shuva includes these factors, the phenomenon of t'shuva spreads out over all universe,
bringing harmony and perfection to all of existence.
Like with every pattern of transgression, giving up an addiction to pornography, alcohol, or gambling doesn't
mean just stopping. Former addicts have to fill up their feelings of inner emptiness and deep-seated depression
with a passionate, loving, joyous connection to G-d.
While t'shuva is normally translated as penitence or repentance, the root of the Hebrew word t'shuva means
"return." T'shuva is a return to the source, to one's roots, to one's deepest inner self. Rabbi Kook writes:
"When one forgets the essence of one's soul; when one distracts his mind from seeing the true nature of his own
inner life, everything becomes doubtful and confused. The principal t'shuva, which immediately lights up the
darkness, is for a person to return to himself, to the root of his soul. Then he will immediately return to G-d, to the
Soul of all souls. And he will continue to stride higher and higher in holiness and purity. This is true for an
individual, a nation, for all of mankind, and for the perfection of all existence...." (Orot HaT'shuva, 15:10).
T'shuva is a return to the source, to one's roots, to one's deepest inner self
One can readily understand that to reach fulfillment and happiness, a person must be his true self. In modern
times, this basic understanding has been corrupted into a "do your own thing" attitude. Rabbi Kook is advocating
a deeper, inner search, far beyond the surface passions and emotions which often lead people to express their
every desire and lust. Rabbi Kook under stands that the individual, and all of existence, has a deeper, spiritual
source.
Throughout history, man has been searching to discover the driving force of life. To a capitalist, money makes the
world go around. To a romanticist, love is what impassions mankind. Freudians claim that man's unconscious
desires and libido are to blame. Peering into a microscope, a modern physicist declares that atoms and neutrons
cause the world to spin. For biologists, the uniting power resides in strands of DNA.
When Rabbi Kook gazes into the inner workings of the soul, the soul of the individual, and the soul of the world,
he sees that the force behind all existence is t'shuva.
It is no secret that there is great darkness, confusion, and pain in the world. Bookstores are filled with self-help
books on how to be happy. Layman's guides to psychology line shelf after shelf. Our generation has been called
"the age of anxiety." People often live out their lives plagued with depression, sickness, a sense of dissatisfaction
and constant unrest.
Psychiatrists and psychologists have become the prophets of the moment, proposing dozens of theories to
explain man's existential dilemmas. Whether it is because we suffer from an Oedipus complex, or from a primal
anxiety at having been separated from the womb, from sexual repression, or from the trauma of death, mankind
is beset with neuroses. Vials of valium and an assortment of anti-depressants and "uppers" can be found in the
medicine cabinets of the very best homes. Not to mention the twenty-four-hour bombardment of work, television,
computer games, Internet pornography, discos, and drugs which people use to blot out the never ending angst
that they feel.

Dr. Eric Fromm, 1900-1980


The psychologist, Erich Fromm, in his book, "Psychoanalysis and Religion," describes an interesting photograph
which captures the average man's pain:
"It is proclaimed by many voices that our way of life makes us happy. But how many people of these times are
happy? It is interesting to remember a casual shot in Life magazine some time ago of a group of people waiting
on a street corner for the green light. What was so remarkable and shocking about this picture was that these
people who all looked stunned and frightened had not witnessed a dreadful accident but, as the text had to
explain, were merely average citizens going about their business."
Fromm continues and states: "We pretend that our life is based on a solid foundation and ignore the shadows of
uneasiness, anxiety and confusion which never leave us."
Rabbi Kook understands all of this darkness and anguish. He sees its source not in external causes, not in the
traumas of child hood, nor in the pressures to conform to behavioral norms. He looks beyond social, cultural,
psychological, sexual, and family dynamics to shed spiritual light on the world's confusion and pain.
"What is the cause of melancholy?" he asks. "The answer is the over abundance of evil deeds, evil character
traits, and evil beliefs on the soul. The soul's deep sensitivity feels the bitterness which these cause, and it draws
back, frightened and depressed" (Orot HaT'shuva, 14:6).
"All depression stems from sin, and t'shuva comes to light the soul and transforms the depression to joy" (Ibid,
14:7).
If Rabbi Kook were to have studied the Life magazine photograph of the tense, unhappy people on the street
corner who were waiting to cross the street, he would have suggested a far deeper reason for their anxiety than
any psychologist could propose. A deeper reason, and a novel cure:
If Rabbi Kook saw the Life magazine photograph, he would have suggested a far deeper reason for their
anxiety than any psychologist could propose.

"Every sin causes a special anxiety on the spirit, which can only be erased by t'shuva. According to the depth of
the t'shuva, the anxiety itself is transformed into inner security and courage. The outer manifestation of anxiety
which is caused by transgression can be discerned in the lines of the face, in a person's movements, in the
voice, in behavior, and one's handwriting, in the manner of speaking and one's language, and above all, in
writing, in the development of ideas and their presentation" (Ibid, 8:3).
The melancholy and anxiety haunting mankind is not a result of the "separation from the womb," but of a
separation much deeper - the separation from G-d.
"I see how transgressions act as a barrier against the brilliant Divine light which shines on every soul, and they
darken and cast a shadow upon the soul" (Ibid, 7:5).

The cause of depression is transgression and the estrangement it causes from G-d.
The remedy is t'shuva - for the individual, the community, and for the world. Rabbi Kook teaches that to discover
true inner joy, every person, and all of Creation, must return to the Source of existence and forge a living
connection to G-d.
The paperbacks on personal improvement, psychology, and self-help which line bookstore shelves, contain many
useful insights and tips. After all, man is influenced by a wide gamut of factors dating back even before his
conception, through his time in the womb, his childhood years, and spanning the many life passages each of us
face. Rabbi Kook reveals that in addition to all of the fashionable theories and cures, on a far deeper level, there
is a spiritual phenomenon of wonderous beauty, like a butterfly enclosed in a cacoon, waiting to soar free. This is
the light and healing wonder of t'shuva.
The Worlds Greatest Joy
Jews who have become religious, baale t'shuva, describe t'shuva as the most joyous experience in their lives.
Very often, a gleam of happiness shines in their eyes. Their speech is filled with an excited ring, as if they have
discovered a secret treasure. Even people who have tasted all of life's secular pleasures insist that the
experience of t'shuva is the world's greatest joy.
This feeling is also shared by religious Jews who have fallen off the track, let's say by falling victim to the
temptations of Internet pornography, and who have fought their way back to discover an even more intimate
connection to G-d through the wondrous pathway of t'shuva.
What is the reason for this? What is the source of this joy?
Rabbi Kook states: "T'shuva is the healthiest feeling possible. A healthy soul in a healthy body must necessarily
bring about the great joy of t'shuva, and the soul consequently feels the greatest natural pleasure" (Orot
HaT'shuva, 5:1).
When a person rids himself of bad moral habits and base character traits, his spiritual health is improved.
Without these negative influences, his soul is free to receive the flow of Divine light which fills the universe. It is
this "meeting with G-d" that brings the influx of joy that every baal t'shuva feels. When the unhealthy walls which
had separated him from G-d are eliminated from his life, he stands ready for life's greatest discovery - the
discovery that G-d and the spiritual world are real. Suddenly, G-d's love and kindness surround him. All his sins
are forgiven. Instead of darkness, there is light all around him and a pool of endless love.

The constant spiritual battle between the evil inclination and the good inclination is a part of the inner fabric of
life.

And the winner is...


As the book "Mesilat Yesharim" makes clear, all of this world is a testing ground (Ch.1). Will a man follow his will
to do good, or will he be led astray after sin? The hero, the winner, is the man who clings to G-d in all of his
doings. This is success.
"The Holy One Blessed be He has put man in a place where the factors which draw him further from the Blessed
One are many. These are the earthy desires which, if he is pulled after them, cause him to be drawn further from

and to depart from the true good. It is seen, then, that man is veritably placed in the midst of a raging battle... If
he is valorous, and victorious on all sides, he will be the whole man, who will succeed in uniting with his Creator,
and he will leave the corridor to enter the palace, to glow in the light of life. To the extent that he has subdued his
evil inclination and his desires, and withdrawn from those factors which draw him further from the good, and
exerted himself to become united with it, to that extent he will attain and rejoice in the light of life" (Ibid).

The new spiritual horizons which the baal t'shuva discovers give him a feeling of freedom, as if he were soaring
through air.

This new-found freedom comes when the walls blocking G-d's light have been razed. The baal t'shuva is freed
from the bad habits and passions which had enslaved him in the past. He escapes from a web of wrongdoing.
The lack of godliness which had pervaded his actions, his thoughts, and his being, is erased. Freed from his
darkness, he can experience the great light and freedom of G-d.
"The steadfast will to always remain with the same beliefs to support the vanities of transgression into which a
person has fallen, whether in deeds or in thoughts, is a sickness caused by an oppressive slavery that does not
allow t'shuva's light of freedom to shine in its full strength. For it is t'shuva which aspires to the original, true
freedom - Divine freedom, which is free of all bondage" (Orot HaT'shuva, 5:5).
People often erroneously think that by embracing G-d and His Torah, one is restricting one's freedom, not
expanding it. If one recognizes his Creator, he also has to recognize His laws. For a person who thinks this way,
religion is perceived as a yoke of restrictive commandments. But Rabbi Kook tells us the opposite. The discovery
of G-d is the ultimate freedom. Finally, a person is liberated from the delusions that he held on to in order to
justify his errant lifestyle. Finally, he is freed from cycles of behavior which he could not control. Like a criminal
who decides to go straight, he can now put his life in line with G-d's will for the world. This is the greatest
freedom!

Often people are afraid to set out on a course of t'shuva because they associate repentance with pain. While
pain is a part of the t'shuva process, the hardships of t'shuva are quickly erased by the joy which the baal t'shuva
discovers.
"T'shuva does not come to make life bitter, but to make it more pleasant. The happy satisfaction with life that
comes with t'shuva is derived from the waves of bitterness which cling to a person during the initial stages of
t'shuva. However, this is the highest, creative valor, to recognize and understand that pleasantness evolves out
of bitterness, life out of the clutches of death, eternal pleasures out of sickness and pain. As this everlasting
knowledge grows and becomes clearer in the mind, in the emotions, in the person's physical and spiritual
natures, the person becomes a new being. With a courageous spirit, he transmits a new life force to all of his
surroundings. He spreads the good news to all of his generation, and to all generations to be, that there is joy for
the righteous in the Holy One of Israel" (Ibid, 16:6).

Higher than getting high


The pain a person feels when he confronts his sins and his unholy past, is only a temporary phase of t'shuva. It
resembles the pain of surgery, when a cancer must be cut out of the body. The uprooting of sin brings healing
and joy in its wake, but the initial amputation is painful. It is difficult to give up the familiar, even if it be an evil
habit. When a person understands this and opens himself up to change, he comes to be filled with a courageous

new spirit and joy. His sins are forgiven. His life is renewed, and the world seems to be renewed with him.6
Immediately, he wants to share his good fortune with everyone. "Hey everybody, listen to me. You want to be
happy? You want to be high? Get with it. Forget about booze. Forget about Google. Don't do drugs. Do t'shuva!"

Another reason why the joy of t'shuva is so great is because the happiness of t'shuva is felt in the soul. Until a
person discovers t'shuva, he experiences the pleasures of the world on the physical, emotional, or intellectual
levels alone. He enjoys good foods, sexual highs, stimulating books, new clothes and the like. But a man has a
deeper, spiritual level of being, his soul, which derives no satisfaction from earthly pleasures.
"To what is this analogous? To the case of a city dweller who marries a princess. If he brought her all that the
world possessed, it would mean nothing to her, by virtue of her being a king's daughter. So it is with the soul. If it
were brought all the delights of the world, they would be nothing to it, in view of its pertaining to the higher
elements" (Mesillat Yesharim, Ch.1).
When a person does t'shuva, he opens his soul to a river of spiritual delight. The joy he discovers is like nothing
which he has ever experienced. Not only are his senses affected, t'shuva touches his soul. Just as his soul is
deeper than his other levels of being, the happiness he discovers is deeper. Just as his soul is eternal, his joy is
eternal. Unlike the transitory pleasures of the physical world, the joy of t'shuva is everlasting. An erotic image on
the Internet may cause a momentary wow, but the hit quickly fades and has to be replaced by another. A jacuzzi
feels good, but when it is over, the pleasure soon passes. But in the heavenly jacuzzi of t'shuva, you don't just
get wet - you get cleansed and transformed.
"When the light of t'shuva appears and the desire for good ness beats purely in the heart, a channel of happiness
and joy is opened, and the soul is nurtured from a river of delights" (Orot HaT'shuva, 14:6).
This river of delight is the river of t'shuva. Rabbi Kook's use of this expression is not metaphorical alone. In the
spiritual world, there actually exists a river of t'shuva. This is the constant flow of t'shuva which, though invisible,
is always present and active. It is our channel to true joy and happiness because it is our channel to G-d. Nothing
in the world can compare to its pleasures.

"In the place where the baale t'shuva stand, even the completely righteous cannot stand" (Berachot, 34b).
This is because the baal t'shuva has to exert a far greater effort to overcome his yetzer and transform it into a
passionate lust for G-d.
"T'shuva elevates a person above all of the baseness of the world. Notwithstanding, it does not alienate the
person from the world. Rather, the baal t'shuva elevates life and the world with him" (Orot HaT'shuva, 12:1).
Sometimes, people have a misunderstanding of t'shuva. They think that t'shuva comes to separate a person from
the world.

It's not about being alone on the hill

During the early stages of t'shuva, a person should certainly avoid situations which are antithetical to his
newfound goals, in order to rebuild his life on purer foundations, but a baal t'shuva is not a recluse. He should not
cut himself off from the world. The opposite. By participating in the life around him, he elevates, not only himself,
but also the world. After returning to G-d, he must then return to the world. G-d created the heavens for the
angels. Our lives are to be lived down on earth. When the powerful life-force which went into sin is redirected
toward good, life is uplifted. A baal t'shuva who returns to a former situation in which he sinned, and now
conducts himself in a righteous, holy manner, affects a great tikun. As the Rambam explains: "For instance, if a
man had sinful relations with a woman, and after a time was alone with her, his passion for her persisting, and his
physical powers unabated, while he continued to live in the same district where he had sinned, and yet he
refrains and does not transgress, he is a baal t'shuva" (Laws of T'shuva, 2:1).
"The inner forces which led him to sin are transformed. The powerful desire which smashed all borders and
brought the person to sin, it itself becomes a great, exalted life-force which acts to bring goodness and blessing
to all existence" (Orot HaT'shuva, 12:1)
It is time to take t'shuva out of the closet. The true champions of life are not the basketball players, nor the
Hollywood stars. The real heroes are the masters of t'shuva. They are the Supermen who battle the forces of
darkness in order to fill the world with goodness and blessing. Teenagers! Tear down your wall posters of
wrestlers and rock stars! The people to be admired are the masters of t'shuva! You can be one too!
Thoughts Make The Man

Rabbi Kook teaches that even mere contemplations of t'shuva have significant value.

Even just thinking has impact


To understand this, we must look at life with a different orientation than we are used to. Usually, we are
pragmatists. We judge the value of things by the influence they have on the world. For instance, ten dollars is
worth more than five dollars because it can buy more. A doctorate is better than a bachelor's degree because it
can lead to a better paying and more prestigious job.
There are things, however, that have an absolute value, regardless of their tangible impact in this world. Truth is
an example. Holiness is another. To this list, Rabbi Kook adds good thoughts. Contemplations of t'shuva, even if
they do not lead to a resulting change in behavior, bring benefit to the individual and the world.
This is similar to the question in the Talmud - which is greater, Torah study or good deeds? The answer is Torah
study because it leads to good deeds (Kiddushin 40B). You might think that if the ultimate goal is the deeds, then
they would be more important. But our Sages tell us that the thought processes which lead to the deeds is of
primary concern. Being immersed in Torah has an absolute value in itself.
"The thought of t'shuva transforms all transgressions and the darkness they cause, along with their spiritual
bitterness and stains, into visions of joy and comfort, for it is through these contemplations that a person is filled
with a deep feeling of hatred for evil, and the love of goodness is increased within him with a powerful force"
(Orot HaT'shuva, 7:1).
T'shuva can be dissected into two different realms. There is the nitty-gritty t'shuva of mending an actual deed,
and there is the thought process which precedes the action. The value of these thoughts is not to be measured

according to the activities which they inspire. For instance, a person may decide that he wants to be righteous.
But when the person tries to translate this thought into action, he finds himself overwhelmed. To be righteous, he
has to get up early in the morning to pray. He has to stop doing a host of forbidden deeds. He has to watch what
he says, watch what he sees, and watch what he eats. Before he even begins, his will is broken. Though his wish
to do t'shuva was sincere, he couldn't find the inner strength to actualize his thoughts into deeds.
Rabbi Kook says that all is not lost. This person's original idea to do t'shuva stemmed from the deepest recesses
of the soul, where it was inspired by the spiritual waves of t'shuva which encircle the world. Thus he has already
been touched by t'shuva's cleansing streams. In effect, he has boarded the boat. Though his willpower may be
weak at the moment, his soul is longing for G-d.

"Through the contemplations of t'shuva, a person hears the voice of G-d calling him from the Torah and from the
heart, from the world and all it contains. The will for good is fortified within him. The body itself, which causes
transgression, becomes more and more purified until the thought of t'shuva pervades it" (Orot HaT'shuva, 7:5).
In the beginning of his t'shuva journey, a person must realize the absolute value of his initial inspiration. He has
to find a new way of judging the value of things, not always looking for concrete benefits or results. When a
person undertakes t'shuva, his thoughts weigh as much as his deeds. T'shuva is not just a process of do's and
don'ts, but rather a conscious and subconscious overhaul of an individual's thought processes and emotions.
Already by thinking about t'shuva one is engaged in it.
"Even the thought of t'shuva brings great healing. However, the soul can only find full freedom when this potential
t'shuva is actualized. Nonetheless, since the contemplation is bound up with the longing for t'shuva, there is no
cause for dismay. G-d will certainly provide all of the means necessary for complete repentance, which brightens
all darkness with its light... A broken and contrite heart, O G-d, Thou will not despise" (Ibid, 7:5).
When we recognize the value of our thoughts, we discover a very encouraging concept.

No need for despair. Just keep reading this site


One needn't despair when confronted by the often difficult changes which t'shuva demands. This is especially
true in the initial stages before a person's increasing love for G-d makes all difficulties and sacrifices seem small.
Even if a person cannot immediately redress all of his wrongdoings, he should know that there is a great value in
just wanting to be good. One can take comfort that he wants to be a better person. With G-d's help, he will also
be able to actualize his yearnings. But in the meantime, just thinking good thoughts is already strengthening his
inner self and the world.
This is also why t'shuva can come in a second. Just the thought of t'shuva is t'shuva itself (Kiddushin 39B).
Thoughts of t'shuva are themselves uplifting. The actual mending of activities is only a second stage. This
knowledge can give a person the strength to continue through difficult times.
"To the extent that someone is aware of his transgressions, the light of t'shuva shines lucidly on his soul. Even if
at the moment, he lacks the steadfastness to repent in his heart and will, the light of t'shuva hovers over him and
works to renew his inner self. The barriers to t'shuva weaken in strength, and the blemishes they cause are
diminished to the degree that the person recognizes them and longs to erase them. Because of this, the light of
t'shuva starts to shine on him, and the holiness of the transcendental joy fills his soul. Gates which were closed
open before him, and in the end, he will achieve the exalted rung where all obstacles will be leveled. Every valley
shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the
rough places plain" (Orot HaT'shuva, 15:7).

A few examples may help illustrate this idea. Individual t'shuva includes rectifying transgressions and improving
character traits. Let's suppose that Joseph has stolen money from Reuven who lives two thousand miles away.
At the moment, even though Joseph wants to return the money, he is unable to make the trip. This is a barrier to
t'shuva. Or in a case where Reuven lives just across the street, it may be that Joseph is too embarrassed to
admit his theft. Until he strengthens his will to do t'shuva, musters his inner courage, and swallows his pride,
Joseph's t'shuva will be delayed.
"When a person truly longs for t'shuva, he may be prevented by many barriers, such as unclear beliefs, physical
weakness, or the inability to correct wrongs which he has inflicted on other people. The barrier may be
considerable, and the person will feel remorse because he understands the weighty obligation to perfect his
ways, in the most complete manner possible. However, since his longing for t'shuva is firm, even if he cannot
immediately overcome all of the obstacles, he must know that the desire for t'shuva itself engenders purity and
holiness, and not be put off by barriers which stand in his way. He should endeavor to seize every spiritual
ascent available to him, in line with the holiness of his soul and its holy desire" (Orot HaT'shuva, 17:2).
In dealing with his anger, it may be that Joseph lacks the determination or courage to have a heart-to-heart talk
with his boss. Or perhaps, he is afraid of losing his job. So let him begin with his parents or wife. With each step
he takes, he will find greater courage for the stages ahead. And if his Pandora's Box of anger is too threatening
for him to open at all, let him turn to redress other matters more in his reach, with the faith that a more complete
t'shuva will come.
"One must strengthen one's faith in the power of t'shuva, and feel secure that in the thought of t'shuva alone, one
perfects himself and the world. After every thought of t'shuva, a person will certainly feel happier and more at
peace than he had in the past. This applies even more if one is determined to do t'shuva, and if he has made a
commitment to Torah, its wisdom, and to the fear of G-d. The highest joy comes when the love of G-d pulses
through his being. He must comfort himself and console his outcast soul, and strengthen himself in every way he
can, for the word of G-d assures, As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you'" (Ibid. Isaiah, 66:13).
"Let depression not overcome him because of the things he was unable to redress. Let him rather strengthen
himself in the fortress of Torah, and in the service of G-d, with all of his heart, in happiness, reverence, and love"
(Orot HaT'shuva, 17:6).
Even though a person has not yet been able to rectify every wrongdoing, each thought of t'shuva has inestimable
value. "Even the minutest measure of t'shuva awakens in the soul, and in the world, a great measure of holiness"
(Ibid, 14:4). The difficulty in mending the trangressions of the past should never bring a person to despair. For
even if the thought of t'shuva is still undeveloped, even if one's desire to do good contains a mixture of unrefined
motives, Rabbi Kook assures us that its basic inner holiness is worth all of the wealth in the world.
Gate 4: Don't Worry! Be Happy!

Amongst the many eye-opening revelations on t'shuva in Rabbi Kook's writings, one concept is especially
staggering in its profundity. It is such a new understanding, we have decided to devote a separate short chapter
to it, to highlight its importance to the reader. Usually, we think that a process is completed when it reaches its
end. We experience a feeling of satisfaction when we finish a project. An underlying tension often accompanies
our work until it is accomplished. This is because the final goal is considered more important than the means.
When it comes to T'shuva... it is the means which counts
Most people feel the same way about t'shuva. Until the process of t'shuva is complete, they feel unhappy,
anxious, overwhelmed with the wrongdoings which they have been unable to redress. Rabbi Kook tells us that
this perspective is wrong. When it comes to t'shuva, the goal is not the most important thing. It is the means
which counts. What matters the most is the striving for perfection, for the striving for perfection is perfection itself.

"If not for the contemplation of t'shuva, and the comfort and security which come with it, a person would be
unable to find rest, and spiritual life could not develop in the world. Man's moral sense demands justice,
goodness, and perfection. Yet how very distant is moral perfection from man's actualization, and how feeble he is
in directing his behavior toward the pure ideal of absolute justice. How can he aspire to that which is beyond his
reach? For this, t'shuva comes as a part of man's nature. It is t'shuva which perfects him. If a man is constantly
prone to transgress, and to have difficulties in maintaining just and moral ideals, this does not blemish his
perfection, since the principle foundation of his perfection is the constant longing and desire for perfection. This
yearning is the foundation of t'shuva, which constantly orchestrates man's path in life and truly perfects him"
(Orot HaT'shuva, 5:6).
Dear reader, please note: if you are not yet a tzaddik, you need not be depressed.

Success in t'shuva is not measured by the final score at the end of the game. It is measured by the playing. The
striving for good is goodness itself. The striving for atonement is atonement. The striving for perfection is what
perfects, in and of itself.
King Solomon teaches that no man is sin free (Kohelet, 7:20). Transgression is part of the fabric of life. Since we
are a part of this world, we too are subject to "system failure" or sin. For there is not a just man on earth that
does good and never sins (Ibid). This is particular true in sexual matters. Even the righteous occasionally
succumb to temptation (Sanhedrin 107A). Thus, until the days of Mashiach, an ideal, sinless existence is out of
man's reach.
An illustration may help make this concept clearer. On Yom Kippur, we are like angels. We don't eat, we don't
drink. All day long we pray for atonement from all of our sins. At the end of the day, with the final blast of the
shofar, we are cleansed. But in the very next moment, as we pray the evening service, we once again ask G-d to
forgive us. Forgive us for what? The whole day we have acted like angels. Our sins were whitened as snow.8 In
the few seconds between the end of Yom Kippur and the evening prayer, what sin did we do? Maybe at the
beginning of the evening prayer, exhausted by the fast, we didn't concentrate on our words. Maybe our prayers
on Yom Kippur were halfhearted. Maybe, we forgot to ask forgiveness for some of our sins.
The point is that the process of t'shuva never ends. Perfection in deeds is out of our reach. Thus, when a goal is
unattainable, it is the striving to reach the goal that counts. Regarding t'shuva, it is the constant striving for
t'shuva which purifies, enlightens, elevates, and perfects. So relax all you seekers of t'shuva. Even if you haven't
yet atoned for all of your sins, DON'T WORRY. BE HAPPY. As long as you are sincerely trying, that is what really
counts.
Means Or Goal - That Is The Question
As we mentioned, people tend to place more value on the final achievement of a goal, rather than on the
endeavor itself. For instance, many people focus on getting their salaries at the end of the week, rather than on
their actual work. How happy they feel when the work week is over and they have their paychecks in hand! For
them, their work is merely a means toward receiving their money. This phenomenon is known to cause anxiety
and even depression on the job. It can even lead to accidents, when a worker, daydreaming about the future,
stops paying attention to what he is doing.
If a person approaches t'shuva with this attitude, he will always focus on his shortcomings and sin, and not on his
yearning and efforts to redress them. As the saying teaches, one should not focus on the half of the glass that is
empty, but rather on the half which is full. Not understanding that his efforts to improve are what matter, and not
the idealized vision of himself which he has not as yet achieved, he will always feel anxious, unfulfilled and
forlorn.

Rabbi Kook explains that this misplacing of priorities between the means and the goal stems from the sin of the
earth during the days of Creation. By understanding the depth of this teaching, we can learn to be happy, not
only when we attain our goals and ideals, but also at every moment of our lives.
How is the gulf between means and the goal, between the imperfect and the ideal, to be bridged? Through
t'shuva. What will cause all of the details of human endeavor and the final building to merge in pleasant
harmony? T'shuva. The light of t'shuva penetrates all of the details of life, all of the stages of mending and repair,
and fills them all with the taste of the final ideal.
With t'shuva, the means become as vital as the goal. T'shuva penetrates all of the details of life and uplifts them
to G-d. Everything is seen as important and necessary in the refinement and perfection of the existence. T'shuva
enters every sphere of life, illuminating all things with the light of the future ideal, giving inspiration to all of man's
work.
Man's thoughts, speech, and action influence the amount of Divine blessings that come into the world
Rabbi Kook writes that the inner foundation of life is built upon t'shuva (Orot HaT'shuva, 11:4). Material
existence, he explains, is based on a step-by-step descent from Divine spiritual spheres to the worldly. Thus
there is a Divine spark in everything. This spark is like the DNA of existence. When a person is involved in any
detailed spark of existence, it is as if he were involved with the world itself.
"When we understand to what extent the tiniest details of life, the spiritual and the physical, contain, in
microcosm, all of the general laws, and that every small detail has shadows of greatness in the depths of its
essence, we will no longer wonder at the secret of t'shuva which penetrates man's spirit so deeply, from the
beginnings of his thoughts and beliefs, to the smallest details of his character and deeds" (Ibid).
When we understand that every fragment is a microcosm of the whole, and that each and every person is like a
world in miniature, than how truly powerful is man! How influential is his each and every deed! For example, if a
person stops viewing pornography on the Internet, he not only improves himself, he improves his surroundings.
Because, he is connected to all of the cosmos, he improves the universe. The smallest detail of t'shuva heals
man and all of existence with it! His cries for salvation echo through every realm of existence and reach the
Divine throne itself. Out of the depths, I have called to You, O L-rd (Tehillim, 130:1). Man's every gesture of
t'shuva is filled with meaning, connecting the lowest regions to the most exalted heights, the smallest details to
the grandest schemes. He is the sun around which all of life orbits. His thoughts, speech, and action literally
influence the amount of Divine blessings that come into the world (Nefesh HaChaim, Gate One, Ch.3-4).
Gate 6: The Pain And Joy Of Birth

We have mentioned the bitterness and pain that accompanies the early stages of t'shuva. When people begin to
enter the realm of t'shuva, they start to experience a fear, an uncertainty, an inner anguish and pain. While this
unpleasant aspect of t'shuva is quickly overshadowed and forgotten in the baal t'shuva's pursuant great joy, it is a
necessary step in the process. Recognizing its value and purging effect can help the penitent weather the stormy
seas he must travel. The knowledge that the sun is shining just behind the clouds can give him the strength to
continue. In the same way that a woman soon forgets the agonies of childbirth in the happiness of being a
mother, the baal t'shuva quickly forgets the "labor pains" of t'shuva in the great joy of his rebirth.

The knowledge that the sun is shining just behind the clouds can give him the strength to continue
"T'shuva does not come to embitter life, but rather to make it more pleasant. The joy of life which comes from
t'shuva evolves from the waves of bitterness which the soul wrestles with in the beginning of the t'shuva process.
However, this marks the higher, creative valor which knows that sweetness stems from bitterness, life from
death, eternal delight from infirmity and pain" (Orot HaT'shuva, 16:6).
When you first swallow aspirin tablets, there is a small taste of bitterness in the mouth. So too, in the initial
stages of t'shuva, the first explorations of one's inner world can cause uncomfortable feelings. However, as one
continues on the path of inner cleansing, one discovers a great happiness in knowing that he is doing what he
was created to do - to get closer to G-d.
The process is not that at first you are sad and then you are happy. Rabbi Kook teaches that you are happy from
being sad. It is the bitterness itself that causes the joy. One's suffering makes one realize that the t'shuva is
sincere.
Some people are overwhelmed by the mountain of sin which seems to confront them as they begin to set their
lives in order. How can they deal with so many transgressions? How can they ever make the drastic changes
needed to live a holy, ethical life? Rabbi Kook reassures us that this feeling Is a very good sign. It is a sign that
the person has already broken free of his previous material perspective and is ready to consider a more spiritual
life.
In the same way, Rabbi Kook tell us that if you are hurting inside, that is a sign of spiritual health. It's a sign that
your inner self recognizes that it does not belong to an environment of sin. Feeling pain over the sins of the past
is an important part of the t'shuva process (Laws of T'shuva, 2:6). It goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to a
life of good deeds in the future.
The pain and anxiety associated with the first thoughts of t'shuva evolve, in part, from the need to separate from
former ways. Just as an operation to remove a cancerous tumor from the body is accompanied by pain, so too is
t'shuva. However, the pain is a sign that a healing process is underway. An amputation hurts, but sometimes it is
needed to save a person's life. Before the operation, the patient is wary. His leg may be gangrene, but it still is
his leg. What will he be like without it? Will he be the same man? How will he function?
These are all natural, legitimate, and very distressing questions. The unknown can be scary. So too, when a
person has become used to a part of his psyche, even if it be some negative trait which is detrimental to his inner
well-being, it is not easy to escape from its clutches. Already it has become a citizen of his soul. Breaking away
from the past and being open to change is not a simple task. Great inner courage is needed. Often, it can only be
done with the help of a teacher or guide (Mesillat Yesharim, Ch.3). In effect, in unveiling the step-by-step process
of t'shuva, Rabbi Kook is giving us a map to assist us on the way.
"The pain experienced upon the initial thought of t'shuva derives from the severance from evil dispositions which
cannot be corrected while they are organically attached to the person and damaging all of his being. T'shuva
uproots the evil aspects of the spirit and returns it to its original essence. Every separation causes pain, like the

amputation of a diseased organ for medical purposes. However, it is through these deep inner afflictions that a
person is freed from the dark bondage of his sins and base inclinations, and from all of their bitter influences"
(Orot HaT'shuva, 8:1).
Delving one step deeper, Rabbi Kook explains that the pain of sin results from the disharmony it causes between
the soul and the essential goodness of life and the universe.

When a person falls into the darkness of sin...


Because an individual's soul is attached to the soul of all existence, when a person falls into the darkness of sin,
his soul is cut off from the positive Divine plan for the world and it experiences the pain of exile.
"Every transgression torments the heart because it severs the unity between the individual and all of existence..
The basis of the pain which he feels does not stem from the specific trans- gression itself, but from the deeper
essence of the sin which has alienated the soul from the natural order of life, which radiates with a Divine moral
light that fills the world with unity and higher purpose" (Ibid, 8:3).
Rabbi Kook tells us that the true underlying pain of sin does not come from, for example, feeling remorse over
having stolen, but from the alienation from G-d which the sin causes. An individual's sins cut him off from the
symphony of Creation. While the world is progressing forward on a developmental path of elevation and
perfection, his sins are taking him backward. All of society, culture, medicine, and general human endeavor are
going forward, improving, becoming more moral, and he is enmeshed in sin. It may be that the individual is
unaware of this spiritual imbalance, but his soul feels rent asunder. It senses its disharmony, disunity, and
disconnection from life's ongoing yearning for justice and goodness. Severed from the inner, spiritual dimension
of life, a person suffers anxiety, anguish, and loneliness, in the many forms they take, including depression,
neuroses, and disease. Though he may surround himself with hundreds of people, though he occupy himself day
and night with business, family, and pleasure, he is a secretly tormented soul, a revolver ready to go off.
The remedy, Rabbi Kook teaches, is t'shuva. Only t'shuva can reconnect the sinner with G-d. Only t'shuva can
restore the harmony between a man's soul and the world. Only t'shuva can wipe away the sins which prevent a
man from being a positive contributor to life.
Rabbi Kook's level after level exploration into the psychology of sin does not end in despair, but in peace and
salvation.
a person must be very careful not to let the pain of sin turn into depression
Rabbi Kook explains that the despair a person feels when he confronts his sins is itself a source of hope. The
fact that a person is in a state of pain and despair means that he senses his alienation from the positive forces of
life. He realizes that sin is not the ideal. This means that the light of morality and holiness in his soul still flickers.
In his innermost heart, he still longs for goodness. All is not lost. The important thing is not to fall prey to despair,
and to remember that a great happiness is on the way (Orot HaT'shuva, 8:15).
"When an individual contemplates embarking on a course of total t'shuva, of mending all of his feelings and
deeds, even if this is only a thought, he must not be discouraged by the feelings of fear which arise when he
faces his many sins, which now seem so pronounced. This is only natural, for as long as a person is seized by
the baser side of his nature, and by the dark, negative traits which surround him, he does not feel the weight of
his sins so strongly. Occasionally, he feels nothing, and fancies himself a tzaddik. But since his moral sense is
awakening, the light of his soul immediately is revealed, and it probes all of his being and exposes all of his

wrongs. Then his heart shudders with great fear over his lowliness and lack of perfection. But it is exactly at this
instant that he should feel that this awareness, and the worry it causes, are the best signs, forecasting a
complete salvation through self-perfection, and he should strengthen himself through this recognition in the L-rd
his G_d" (Ibib, 8:16).
While pain is a necessary part of the t'shuva process, a person must be very careful not to let the pain of sin turn
into depression to the extent that it weakens the will for t'shuva. Otherwise, Rabbi Kook warns, depression may
spread like a cancer throughout the body and soul. One must always keep in mind the purging affects of spiritual
pain and remember that the light of atonement is already working to return the soul to its natural state of joy.
Even the physical and psychic pains that often cause a person to be more introspective, whether it be disease,
the loss of a loved one, G-d forbid, or a setback in business, these too can be the springboards of t'shuva.
Ironically, depression prepares the way for the joy which the baal t'shuva discovers. To understand this deep
concept, we have to understand that it is the sense of G-d's majestic perfection which causes sin to be so
intolerable. When a person is aware that his sadness over his sins results from the Divine light working on his
soul - this recognition brings unparalleled joy and satisfaction. He feels that G-d is with him! He senses G-d's
presence! This is the spiritual happiness which accompanies the feeling of depression in the heart of the baal
t'shuva. Thus the pain and melancholy which a person experiences because of his sins is, in fact, the wonderful
sign that G-d has already turned toward him to bring him healing and joy (Ibid, 15:9).

From depression to joy...


Rabbi Kook discusses another source of the pain of t'shuva. When the light of t'shuva embraces a person, he is
enveloped by a spirit of holiness and purity. His soul fills with a passionate love of G-d, and he longs for a life of
honesty and moral upliftment. However, at the same time that this "born again" feeling radiates through his being,
he is still trapped in the pathways of sin, and he doesn't know how to escape from his darkness and embark on a
new way of life. This frustration causes pain. Yet, the very fact that a person experiences this anguish is itself the
gateway to happiness.
"The will to be good, this, in itself, is a Divine wind from Gan Eden, which blows on the soul and fills it with infinite
joy, to the extent that the hellish flames of deep anguish are transformed into rivers of delight" (Ibid, 16:3).
A Total Baal T'shuva

The appellation baal t'shuva, or master of t'shuva, suggests a person who has successfully reached the end of
the process and mastered all of its facets. Rabbi Kook, however, tells us that this is not the case at all. If a person
is broken and shattered with remorse because of his sins, he is a master of t'shuva already.
"If a person has such a low estimation of himself that the great bitterness in his soul, his fallen moral state, and
his sins, prevent him from studying Torah and observing the commandments, from engaging in work, and
interacting with people with a calm, healthy happiness, then he must believe in his heart that in feeling such
depression over his sins, he is certainly, at that very moment, a total baal t'shuva. Accordingly, he has already
elevated his being, and he can set his mind at rest and return to being happy and cheerful, occupying himself
with goodness in a peaceful and joyous disposition, for G-d is good and just" (Ibid, 14:23).
Gate 7: Directing Willpower to Good

We have learned that t'shuva is the force which makes the world go round. Just as gravity keeps us here on
earth, t'shuva keeps us longing for the heavens. For the individual, the source of this force lies in his or her
willpower. The will is the battery of t'shuva. For a person to be healthy, happy, and in harmony with the universe,
his will must be freed from the bondage of sin and directed toward goodness and G-d.
For example, when a person is addicted to some repeated transgression, like viewing pornographic material on
the Internet, his will is directed toward evil. His desire is to satiate his craving for the immoral pleasure it gives
him. All the day, even while engaged in other matters, he thinks about getting back to his secret vice. His will is
directed in an unhealthy, unwholesome path. To do t'shuva, this person must redirect his will to a yearning for
good.
We are not accustomed to thinking in terms of the will. In school we learn about many different subjects, we learn
about different professions, we learn how to get along in the world. But we don't learn very much about being
good. Rabbi Kook, however, teaches that education should focus not on professional training alone, but on
finding ways to direct all of man's endeavors, both material and spiritual, toward the world's general aspiration for
goodness (Orot HaT'shuva, 15:2).
"Pure honesty demands that all of the labor of science should be directed toward the fundamental ideal of
enhancing man's will with the ultimate goodness fitting to it, to refine the will, to strengthen it, to sanctify it, to
purify it, to habituate it through educational channels to always strive for what is lofty and noble" (Ibid).
When, however, mankind strays from the proper course, and instead of striving to elevate the will, leaves it
wallowing in its baseness, wanting only to satisfy the will's lower passions, then humanity plunges into darkness,
degeneracy, and idolatry.
"Out of its depths, (mankind) will cry out to the G-d of truth and return to the holy goal of making the foundation of
every activity the uplifting of the will.... This is the entire basis of t'shuva, the elevation of the will, transforming it
to good, to rise up from darkness to light, from a valley of tribulation to a gateway of hope" (Ibid).

Shot Out Of A Cannon


T'shuva can come about gradually, or in a sudden powerful flash. Gradual t'shuva resembles any developmental
process whereby one thing leads to another in a natural fashion like the growth of a tree, which progresses from
the seed to the fruit in a slow, predictable process.

BOOM!
Sudden t'shuva is different. It seems to come about all at once with superhuman energy and willpower. Where
does this great thrust of life energy come from? If we had spiritual glasses to analyze the process, what catalysts
and forces would we see?
The longing for goodness that makes up a person's willpower has a resiliency like that of a spring. Sin causes
the will for goodness to be contracted, like a spring which is being stepped on. The further a person is caught up
in sin, the tighter the spring is compressed. When a person frees himself from the shackles of sin, he is freeing
his willpower to return to cleaving to G-d. Since his willpower was in such a constricted state, when it is released,
it explodes with a super momentum and force, far greater than the force of gradual t'shuva. The sudden baal
t'shuva has a magnificent outburst of will which propels him into a frenzy of spiritual endeavor. From the depth of
his darkness, he discovers an incredible light, an incredible goodness. All at once, BOOM, he is turned on by G-

d. His prayer, his Torah study, his good deeds are all filled with a fiery intensity and fervor for universal good (Ibid,
9:3).
It is this revitalized energy which makes the newly religious seem "born again." This occurs because his
willpower has been rescued and recharged. This accounts for the teaching that a tzaddik cannot reach the level
of a baal t'shuva, for a tzaddik is motivated by the normal, step-by-step will to do good, and not by the explosive,
shot-out-of-a-cannon passion of the baal t'shuva.
Because of its great power, Rabbi Kook warns that t'shuva, if misused, can become a lethal weapon. Like a
surgical knife, t'shuva can be the key to new healthy life, or to self-destruction.
"When one contracts the will, when one represses the life-force through an inner course of abstention out of the
desire to avoid all transgression, a contraction of the will for goodness also occurs. The power of the moral side
of life is also lessened. A man engaged in purifying his life suffers a weakness like that of a sick person who was
cured by electric shock therapy, which wiped out the disease, but also weakened his healthy life-force" (Orot
HaT'shuva, 9:10).
The first stages of t'shuva effect a person's willpower in a negative fashion. Usually, the baal t'shuva consciously
restricts his worldly desires. All feelings which border on lust are rejected, along with every strong passion,
including many positive ones such as feelings of happiness, warmth, and love. Fearing sin, he may decide to
limit all of his physical needs, since everything that he is accustomed to doing seems wrong. He becomes
passive, lethargic and weak.
Of course, when the will has become addicted to unhealthy passions, it must be restricted to tame its hungry
roar. But when a person cuts down on his life-force by slamming on the brakes, not only his bad habits come to a
stop, he also neutralizes the good. This happens because the will, or the life-force, is one. A person does not
have both a good will and a bad will, as is commonly thought. A person's will can be directed towards good or
towards bad, but it itself is one. Thus when the will is restricted, all of its aspects are restricted at the same time.
When someone is involved in t'shuva, he has to be careful to separate both the good from the bad, and the bad
from the good. He has to wield the scalpel of t'shuva like a fine surgeon who removes the malignancy without
removing any healthy tissue. Moreover, he has to identify the good which has become imbedded in the bad, and
to strengthen it to the same extent that he is now repelled by evil. In this manner, by rescuing his longing for
goodness from its dungeon of sin, his t'shuva will actually transform his former transgressions into virtues (Ibid,
9:5).

Sins Into Virtues


Rabbi Kook describes this first stage "engine shutdown" as a low level of t'shuva, in that it weakens a person's
will and inhibits his character. But the lethargy, apparent depression, and lack of vitality which are caused by the
fear of sin, soon are replaced by active, positive forces when a person enters the next phase of t'shuva.
"There is a shortcoming in the lower t'shuva, in that it weakens a person's will and inhibits his character.
However, this shortcoming is corrected when the thought of t'shuva reaches maturity, and it is united with the
exalted t'shuva which comes, not to weaken the will and to break a person's character, but rather to strengthen
his will and the value of his personality. In this manner, his sins are transformed into merit, When the wicked man
turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall live in those things'" (Ibid, 9:7. Ezekiel,
33:19).
When the baal t'shuva feels more secure with his purer lifestyle, he begins to release his will and direct it toward
the good. Reconnected to the force of goodness which powers the universe, his spirit and personality are
bolstered. Like a starship put into "warp-drive," he seems to accelerate into a whole new dimension of space.
The brazenness, or chutzpah, that he once had for sin11 is transformed into a brazenness for holiness. We can
understand the great power involved in this transformation when we recognize that sinning, which is going
against G-d's will for the world, demands a lot of chutzpah. In this higher level of t'shuva, when a person frees his
willpower from sin, by rejecting the sin and preserving the willpower, he uses the same high-powered chutzpah to
form a bolder connection with G-d. He heads full blast for holiness, not settling for anything else, letting nothing
stand in his way, smashing through all barriers, obstacles, and resistance. His boldness propels him to ever new

levels. This is one of the ways how sin itself helps a person do t'shuva. The willpower which previously led him to
sin, is now used to worship G-d. Ironically, because he harnesses this extra "sin power" to reach Divine cleaving,
he can reach greater heights than if he hadn't sinned at all.
Gate 8: T'shuva and Torah
In understanding the necessity of Torah learning to the t'shuva process, we must recognize that Torah is not an
external, factual knowledge like the knowledge of science, mathematics, or linguistics. Torah is an inwardlydirected knowledge which has the power to influence and change a person, to refine a person's character traits
and to connect him to the holy, spiritual foundations of life. The study of Torah is not a quantitative amassing of
information and theories like other fields. It is a qualitative experience demanding both moral and intellectual
involvement, and the desire to make Torah ideals an essential part of one's character. When a person learns
Torah and discovers the exalted harmony and goodness of Creation, his will is affected, stimulating yearnings for
G-d. Because his will for goodness is enhanced, his desire for t'shuva is strengthened as well (See Rav Kook's
book, "Orot HaTorah," 6:1).

You Can't Have One Without The Other


The Talmud teaches that G-d created the evil inclination and the Torah as its cure (Kiddusin 30B). Rabbi Kook
explains this as meaning that the will cannot be perfected except through the purifying influence of the Torah
(See Rav Kook's book, "Musar Avika," Midat Ratzon). The Torah strengthens the will and directs it towards
holiness.
The more an individual learns Torah, especially the secret wisdom of Torah, the more knowledgeable he
becomes about his true spiritual nature and about the nature of his will. He comes to recognize that the entire
world is Divinely inspired to attain a purer connection to G-d. This higher contemplation brings him to a higher
level of t'shuva.
"True, complete t'shuva demands lofty horizons of perception, in order to be raised to the resplendent world
which abounds in holiness and truth. This can only be done by being immersed in the secrets of life found in
Divine wisdom and the depths of the Torah. This necessitates physical cleansing and the purification of one's
traits as aids, so that the clouds of lust will not darken the intellect's clarity. But the study of Torah must precede
everything else, especially the study of the higher, supernal Torah, for it alone can shatter all of the iron barriers
which separate the individual and the community from G-d" (Orot HaT'shuva, 10:1).
T'shuva and Torah go hand-in-hand. Like bees and honey, you can't have one without the other. The more a
person studies Torah, the more inspired he is to do t'shuva. (Orot HaTorah, 6:13). Similarly, to the extent that a
person purifies himself through t'shuva, his study of Torah is blessed and made more lucid (Ibid, 6:5).

Secrets Of Torah

A person who is satisfied with a routine performance of the Torah's commandments can get by with a minimum of
t'shuva, but to enter into the deep, secret wellsprings of Torah, a person must be pure of all unholy influences. To
reach this state of cleanliness, a great deal of t'shuva is required. The depth of a person's t'shuva enables him to
understand greater degrees of Torah, for the ability to understand Torah does not solely depend on one's
intellectual skills in clinically analyzing a passage of Talmud - the essence of Torah is when the person has

internalized its profound moral concepts into his being, so much so that he yearns for them with all of his might.
Only when a person has reached this level, when his will is so refined that it longs only for goodness, can he
properly understand the deep secrets of Torah. For this reason, people who profess to learn Kaballah without
doing t'shuva are not really learning at all. They study the formulas of mysticism, but the import of the teachings
does not enter their hearts, for G-d only unravels the secrets of Torah to one who has purified his soul to receive
them.
"It is obvious that it is impossible to learn the secrets of Torah without t'shuva. For in these great matters, the will
and the intellect are united. When one understands these subjects with a mighty will for the good, one yearns for
them and devises many general and specific strategies to obtain them. However, when sins form a barrier, the
will is damaged, and since one cannot rise to the highest, innermost level of the will...wisdom cannot grow in him,
and the channels of understanding the secrets of Torah are blocked" (Orot HaT'shuva, 10:8).
Simply put, if you want to understand the inner workings of existence, you have to clean up your act. Just like
you cannot purify yourself in a ritual bath while holding on to a dead mouse (Taanit 16A) you cannot learn the
secrets of Torah while you are enshrouded in sin.
Recently, the media has reported a boom in the learning of Kaballah. Movie stars in Hollywood, stockbrokers on
Wall Street, and students in college are flocking to Kaballah clubs. While the efficacy of this learning is
questionable so long as the would-be mystics remain ensconced in their usual lifestyles, the reason behind their
spiritual searching is important to note: Rabbi Kook explains:
"Therefore, in the last generations, in which the darkness of lust has so greatly increased, and the strength of the
body has weakened, until it is impossible to stand firm against the material onslaught, it is imperative to illuminate
the darkness with the mystical secrets of Torah, which know no boundaries, and which elevate (seekers) on
wings of lofty freedom to the highest ascents, and which spread the transcendental joy of the beauty of holiness
to depressed and spiritually darkened souls" (See Rav Kook's book, "Orot HaKodesh, Part 1, Pg. 92).
We have mentioned that a person who desires to learn Torah without the willingness to abandon a life of sin will
not benefit by the Torah's healing power. In the light of Rabbi Kook's teachings, let's follow a young stockbroker,
Joe, to a class in Jewish mysticism, and see what is taking place in his soul.
First of all, though Joe might have been a top student at Princeton, his intellectual faculty has been distorted by
sin. He may be a whiz in math, but his moral sensitivities are dull. Because of the essential unity of existence, his
spiritual darkness also darkens the light of the mind. On the most basic level, he does not know the difference
between right and wrong. Sure, he knows that murder is evil, but other sins, including serious transgressions, like
gazing at forbidden images or engaging in malicious gossip, do not seem so bad. In many instances, his moral
wrongdoings do not seem like sins at all (Orot HaT'shuva, 10:4).
Rabbi Kook explains that the dulling of Joe's intelligence is due, not only to his own sins, but to the polluted and
errant values of the society to which he belongs. These distorted mores are caused by the general sins of the
community. Though the word of G-d is always present, in Torah, in religion, in tradition, and in the exquisite
orderings of heaven and earth, the immoral norms of society act as a barrier, blocking the Heavenly light.
Because Joe has become detached from Divine ideals as a result of his sins and the sins of society, he has
become prey to the darker forces of life and to his weaker self. He lacks the moral fortitude to hold himself back
from sin. It is only through the purification of t'shuva that his will for goodness can be strengthened and his clarity
of thought restored (Ibid).
When Joe attends a class in Torah and confronts its sparkling light, if he is a true seeker who truly desires a
higher enlightenment, he will sense his inner darkness and reach out for the deliverance that only t'shuva can
bring. Though there be wrongdoings which he cannot address at the moment, whether through spiritual
weakness or practical impediments, the Torah that he continues to learn will bring clarity to his thinking and fortify
his will, providing him with the moral resolve which he presently lacks.
If Joe feels a joy in the learning of Torah, if he is able to clearly grasp its deep, mystical concepts, then his t'shuva
is real (Ibid, 10:2). With each sin that is corrected, additional vistas of learning open before him. The most

supreme enlightenment comes when he realizes in all of his being that cleaving to G-d is the greatest joy in life.
Reaching this level, he will experience a profound humbleness, for, "How can any person feel an egotistical pride
when he stands before the Source of all perfection, before the infinite light that transcends all blessings and
praises?" (Ibid, 10:4).
When Joe, the stockbroker, realizes that t'shuva makes the world go round, and not the New York Stock
Exchange, he has truly become a baal t'shuva.

Prayer From The Heart


It is impossible to speak about the relationship between t'shuva and Torah without mentioning the vital
importance of prayer. Often, in the light of the Torah, when confronted by one's wrongdoings and moral impurity,
one longs for a far reaching t'shuva which is clearly beyond one's immediate grasp. At times, this great leap
forward cannot be actualized until it is accompanied by heartfelt prayer. It is prayer which opens the stream of
Divine assistance which is needed to overcome weakness and fear, hurdle over chasms of darkness, and
redress every transgression of the past, so that ever new perceptions can be grasped. King David was a master
of t'shuva and a master of prayer. To this day, his Tehillim are our ladders to G-d.
To summarize, the more you learn Torah, the more t'shuva you will be inspired to do - and the more t'shuva you
do, the more Torah you are able to learn.

Gate 9: Barriers To T'shuva

After analyzing the many different facets of t'shuva, Rabbi Kook explains what happens to a person who sets out
on a path of return. The first thing we should know is that there are many barriers to t'shuva (Rambam, Laws of
T'shuva, Ch. 4). To begin with, when someone is not accustomed to sounds of holiness, his ears are blocked to
t'shuva's constant call.

Did someone call or did I hear a calling?

"Turn Back From Your Sins!"


Life's inner moral demand calls out to man, "Turn back from your sins!" Sometimes this inner moral compunction
begins as a soft echo barely audible in the conscience. Was it a voice? Did I hear someone calling? Little by little,
it gains in volume and insistency until it thunders, SON OF MAN, RETURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS!
Occasionally this voice calls out so loudly, it rings in a person's ear wherever he goes. It won't give him rest.
"RETURN!" it calls out in the discotheque. "RETURN!" it calls out at the beach. Return it calls when he sits down
to view forbidden things on the Internet.
"Leave me alone!" the hounded soul cries out. No longer can he pretend not to listen. No longer can he remain in
the chains of crass material existence with all of its vices and pulls.
At this point, Rabbi Kook says, a person must rise to a higher spiritual level in order to find inner peace. He must
summon inner courage to face this spiritual crisis. Sometimes, however, the moral demands of t'shuva seem so
great, a person despairs of ever being able to escape the clutches of sin. His transgressions, like thorns, pin him
down on every side. Outside forces seem to control him. He sees no possible way of making amends.
Once again, Rabbi Kook offers hope by telling us that it is precisely from this point of despair that G-d's mercy
will shine, as King David wrote, "A broken and contrite heart, O G-d, Thou will not despise" (Tehillim, 51:19; Orot
HaT'shuva, 13:8).

Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way


Sometimes when a person has a passionate desire to do t'shuva, he longs to perfect everything all at once.
Discovering a world of greater morality, he immediately wants to actualize it in life. A sudden spiritual illumination
has raised him out of his darkness, and he wants all of his actions, thoughts, and character traits to be
immediately on the same holy level. With all that needs to be corrected, he does not know where to begin. It is
easier to contemplate a state of absolute morality than to achieve it in everyday life. The more t'shuva he does,
the more he feels the gap between where he is and where he should be. Without a firm foundation in the realm of
the holy, he can easily grow discouraged and lose his resolve to become a more moral person. As a result,
people who begin learning about Judaism, and about their inner spiritual world, often put on the brakes in fear of
experiencing further letdown in not being able to reach their ideals.
"If a person wants all of his inner sensitivities and powers to be instantly renewed in line with the spiritual
elevation which he has discovered, and expects all of his immoral ways to be immediately straightened and
perfected - he will lack inner stability, and he will not be able to fortify his will to follow the path to true perfection"
(Orot HaT'shuva, 13:6).

With t'shuva, don't skip that step. Take one at a time.


The solution, Rabbi Kook says, is to do t'shuva in stages. First of all, one should console oneself with the
knowledge that the very thought of t'shuva, the very desire to perfect the wrongs of one's life, is t'shuva itself.
This very understanding brings great inner correction in its wake. With this recognition, a person can feel more
relaxed, feeling certain that the t'shuva process is already underway.

Next, a person must intensify the illumination of holiness within him. This is to be found in the study of Torah. As
we have learned, the study of Torah strengthens the will to do t'shuva and refines character traits and modes of
behavior.
After the will for t'shuva has been firmly established, the person is ready for the details of t'shuva. This stage has
two aspects: t'shuva over behavior in the future, and t'shuva over transgressions in the past. Once again, the
Torah provides the guidance and light. The Torah translates the ideal moral will for goodness which the person
has discovered into the details of day-to-day living.

Focus On The Future


Rabbi Kook writes:
"The foundation of t'shuva should always be established on the goal of improving the future. In the beginning of
the t'shuva process, correcting the past should not be seen as an impeding prerequisite. If a person would
immediately start by redressing the past, he would encounter many obstacles, and the paths of t'shuva, and the
coming closer to G-d, would seem to be too difficult. However, if a person truly endeavors to refine his future
deeds, Divine assistance is promised, even in correcting transgressions of the past" (Orot HaT'shuva, 13:9b).
Since it is easier to commit oneself to a more positive life in the future, this is the place to start. For instance, a
person decides that from now on he will not say anything bad about people. This future-oriented t'shuva is easier
to pinpoint and work on. Someone can even make a list of goals and refer to it every day to help him keep on his
course. This way, consistent progress will be made and feelings of frustration will become less and less acute.
It is much harder to figure out how you are going to mend wrongdoings which you have done in the past. First of
all, a person may not remember all of his sins. For example, it is hard to remember all of the bad things one
might have said about people. It is even harder to remember to whom they were said. How can a person find
everyone in order to make amends? A situation like this can cause a person to give up in despair.
Rabbi Kook's advice is to set out correcting the transgressions of the past which are within the person's reach to
correct. This will set into motion a snowball of t'shuva whose inner force will lead him to correct matters more and
more difficult, until he succeeds in redressing all wrongs.
In summary, stage one is the consolation in knowing that the thought of t'shuva is already t'shuva. Stage two is
developing a firmer base in the Torah. Stage three is the resolve not to sin in the future. Stage four, the resolve to
gradually address the wrongs of the past, beginning with the matters that are easiest to mend.

Jewish Law makes me feel like I'm in a straitjacket


Ironically, the commandments of the Torah, the very pathways to freedom, are often seen as barriers to t'shuva.
People who are seeking horizons of ideal justice and universal peace can feel constricted by the Torah's
demands. They feel frustrated by the nitty-gritty details of the law. They erroneously believe that t'shuva is a
retreat from the world, a journey toward spiritual isolation and pure contemplation, away from the complex moral
dilemmas of everyday life. These people maintain that since the world is corrupt, and since they yearn to be

moral, they will avoid all contact with worldly matters. Thus, the commandments of the Torah, with their focus on
perfecting practical life, are seen as barriers to their goals.
We have mentioned that a strategy of worldly separation may be a helpful early phase of t'shuva, but it is not the
end of the journey. In fact it ends in spiritual limbo, leaving a person isolated on a mountaintop, neither in heaven,
nor down on earth. Rabbi Kook writes that there is a far superior strategy. This is the study of the Choshen
Mishpat, the civil laws which govern man's dealings with his fellow man, laws involving money, property,
contracts and the like. A Jew should become versed in all of its details in order to know precisely the principles of
Divine justice on earth. For instance, Rabbi Kook writes:
"It is especially important to do t'shuva regarding transgressions against other people, especially regarding theft,
which hinders the elevation of the will. A person must be stringent in this and trust in G-d's assistance to attain
the state of purity where he will reject anything associated with unjust gain and oppression" (Orot HaT'shuva,
8:14).
Learning the laws of the Choshen Mishpat will guard a person from uncertainty and error, and offer clear
guidelines in the day-to-day dealings of life. In addition to this study, and to the regular study of the Torah's many
branches, Rabbi Kook teaches that special attention must be given to heightening moral sensitivities, and to the
contemplation of exalted spiritual concepts, so that the soul will long for Divine justice in every aspect of life. This
will bring the light of t'shuva to all facets of social interaction (Orot HaT'shuva, 13:5). In this manner, a person not
only betters himself, he also improves the world.
Thus, it is not the Torah which is a barrier to t'shuva, but rather the false ideas which people have about
spirituality. Spirituality is not something intended for monasteries and isolated mountain peaks, but for everyday
life in society, in the supermarket, in the bank, in the courtroom, and in the house. The t'shuva ideal is not to turn
into a monk. One isn't to say, because I am influenced by people, I will avoid them; because I am influenced by
food, I will not eat; because I am influenced by women, I will be celibate (Laws of T'shuva, 13:3). The baal
t'shuva is not to reject life, but to uplift it. Our task is to hallow even the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day existence.
It is easy to turn one's back on life, to walk out the door, to stick out your tongue at your past and say, "Goodbye
world, I'm headed off for the mountains!" The higher t'shuva is down-to-earth t'shuva; deed by deed, person by
person, food by food. T'shuva comes to sanctify life, not to abandon it to despair.

The Show Must Go On


Even if a person feels that transgressions from his past are blocking his will to repent, Rabbi Kook says the show
must go on - t'shuva must go forward (Orot HaT'shuva, 13:5). T'shuva must never stop. T'shuva has no end. Life
must be filled with t'shuva.
Occasionally, the thought of mending each and every sin is just too overwhelming for a person to deal with. Who
has the energy? Who has the strength? Who can overcome all of the powerful temptations? Who can muster the
humility it takes to apologize to everyone he has slighted? The magnitude of the endeavor before him can even
lead a person to say, "Why bother? Nothing can help."

Let no weakness stand in the way. T'shuva must continue. It must overcome all obstacles. Even if there are
matters which seem impossible to correct, let a man always find joy in every bit of t'shuva that comes to his
grasp. The merit of fixing the things that he can will stand by him, helping him to overcome more difficult barriers.

Finally, Rabbi Kook assures us, with G-d's help, he will be able to mend all that needs to be mended (Orot
HaT'shuva, 13:9).

Barriers Of Sin
Millions of people all over the world are searching for a deeper understanding and connection to G-d. What
makes finding Him so difficult? Rabbi Kook explains that the difficulties are due to people's sins and unrefined
traits, which weaken a person's will for perfection and goodness.
"In order to remove every barrier between the general Divine good and the individual who yearns for it, it is
necessary to separate oneself from every moral blemish, in the widest sense, including the cleansing of all of
one's character traits and the purifying of intellectual endeavors, for it is through these that G-d's light appears in
the world...." (Ibid, 13:2).
Bad character attributes, whether they be jealousy, anger, cynicism, pride, stinginess, lust, and the like, together
with whatever sins a person might have, all block his connection to G-d. They darken the intellect with spiritual
pollution and clog the channels of holiness which connect this world with the Divine. If a person feels that
closeness to G-d is eluding him, self-introspection is needed to discover what negative traits and sins are
preventing further progress.
In the initial phase of t'shuva, we focus our microscopes on our general behavior, without turning up the light. We
have to deal with the glaring wrongdoings first, before we can begin to see which fine tunings are still in need of
adjustment. Then, as we become more sensitive to the holy and spiritual, we have to do t'shuva on our original
t'shuva. The more we purify ourselves, the clearer our moral and spiritual vision becomes, and we discover that
there is still plenty more t'shuva to do.

Taming The Beast


Sometimes, in a person's longing to cleanse himself completely, he may decide that since his sins stem from his
material yearnings, he will wage war on his physical life and become an ascetic who barely eats. This person's
intentions are certainly praiseworthy. His passionate desire for inspiration and connection to G-d is noble, but in
letting his longings push him to starve his body, he is in fact sinning against himself (Nazir 3A).
Precisely because t'shuva is the most exciting sensation in the world, a person must be careful to control the
great powers it unleashes. The turned-on t'shuva "junkie" who wakes up in the morning looking to shoot holiness
into his veins is faced with a problem. He wants too much, too fast. If in his frustration, he blames his body and
its lusts, he can start to wage war on himself. He tries to uproot all of his feelings and passions, including healthy
drives like eating and sleeping. But the body resists. It still wants to eat, to sleep, to have properl, marital
relations. As long as a person continues to breathe, the monster called the body will not go away.
When this aggressive strategy fails, the person can fall into despair. His longing to fly straight up to heaven has
been thwarted. Instead of feeling rejected, however, he should realize that the body and soul need to rise up the
spiritual ladder together. Patience is needed. With all of his spiritual and physical baggage, he sets out on the
trip. Little by little, he will prod the beast, poke here and there, steering it, training it, making it obey his
commands.
A person comes to learn that as sensual and materialistic as one's body can be, it also has rights. Just as it is
forbidden to hurt another person, it is forbidden to hurt oneself (Laws of Damages, 5:1). Just as one has to be
kind to others, one has to be kind to oneself (Vayikra Rabbah, 34:3) A baal t'shuva who accepts upon himself
extra stringencies has to take counsel with himself to know when the border has been crossed.
For instance, a person may feel that fasting can help him weaken his material lusts. Not wanting to exhaust
himself completely, he may decide that instead of fasting a whole day, it is healthier to fast during the day, but to
eat at night. In this manner, a person may learn to rule over his lusts without draining his body and willpower
completely. If this regimen also proves too punishing, then the person must have compassion on himself and try
to find another strategy to cleanse himself of his lusts (Orot HaT'shuva, 13:7).

Hashem To The Rescue


The main thing is not to despair. As long as a person's will remains firm, G-d will help him on his way. He must
come to recognize that the ultimate solution to his problems does not rest with himself, for a person by himself
cannot correct all of his failings. He has to know that in the end, the charity of G-d, His mercy and lofty salvation
will rescue him from his darkness (kiddushin 30B) G-d will answer his yearnings and bring him to the higher
deliverance for which he so longs.

The Art Of T'shuva


Rabbi Kook adds one final point which is important to stress. Many people reject the idea of t'shuva because
they believe that they will have to give up their personalities, talents, and uniqueness in order to conform to a
rigid religious standard. Rabbi Kook says that just the opposite is needed. The baal t'shuva must follow his own
special path, not someone else's. Without fear, he must expand his unique intellectual and creative talents in the
freedom of his soul, in line with his own individuality. T'shuva does not restrict life - it enhances it. The musician
need not give up his music; the writer need not abandon his pen; the singer need not refrain from singing; the
businessman need not give up his business. The opposite is true. The baal t'shuva must use his all of his talents,
without hesitation or fear, in serving G-d, in declaring G-d's praises, in bringing the joy and knowledge of G-d to
the world. Then his t'shuva will be complete, not only in mending his deeds and improving his ways, but by
sanctifying his unique individuality and talents to G-d, he helps bring the whole world to completion (Orot
HaT'shuva, 13:10).

WELCOME TO

PORNOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
[Skip to the hot debate and discussion at the PA Forum]

Introduction

Is this the PA support group?


The purpose of this study is to help people who suffer from an addiction to pornography on the Internet. With Gd's help, the material presented will offer ways to break the porn addiction and to stop committing the sexual
transgressions, like masturbation, that stem from it.
Hopefully the knowledge presented will allow people to regain control of their lives and direct their energies in
healthier, more positive paths. Before we present the specific suggestions of JewishSexuality.com, we will
present an overview of Alcoholics Anonymous, and similar addiction support groups, examining their methods in
order to learn whatever we can from their experience in the field.
Interestingly, one of the main principles they stress, the reliance on God, is founded on Jewish teachings. After
understanding the emphasis they place on the 12 Step Program, we will present 12 Torah Steps, based on the
teachings of our holy Sages.
It is worthwhile to note that like alcoholism, gambling, or drug addiction, the person who falls victim to
pornography, and the transgressions which stem from it, can initially delude himself into thinking that it really isn't
such a big sin. Unlike obvious transgressions like stealing or adultery, he can justify his behavior by saying that it

doesn't hurt anyone else, and therefore it isn't such a glaring wrong. When this is coupled with the powerful lure
of the evil inclination that surrounds pornography, the person becomes hooked before he knows it.
The truth is the very opposite. According to the secrets of Torah, not only does the porn addict damage his mind
and his soul, by viewing forbidding images, he pollutes all of the spiritual worlds of Creation.

Each image shoves a fresh load of garbage in your brain


This is because when he blemishes his soul by viewing images which are forbidden to see, he also blemishes his
soul's root in the highest spiritual worlds, strengthens the forces of evil, and pollutes the channels that bring
blessings into the world. And with time, not only is he affected adversely, but also his family, his loved ones,
and the Jewish People as a whole suffer through his decline, in the same way that a small drop of arsenic in
water can poison a whole glass.
Nonetheless, the fear of punishment alone is not enough to break the pattern of temptation and sin. A person
addicted to sexual sin must transform his lust into a passionate love for G-d. Only then will he or she have the
power and conviction to separate from the unhealthy ways of the past and make a new beginning.

Alcoholics Anonymous

My life isn't falling apart because of my addiction...


The primary goal of Alcoholics Anonymous is to "stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." AA
was the first to adopt the 12 Step Program which has become a model for similar recovery groups such as
Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and Eaters Anonymous.
AA teaches that for an alcoholic to end his addiction, he must completely abstain from alcohol on an ongoing
daily basis. The society arranges group meetings of alcoholics trying to recover control over their lives, in an
effort to provide a supportive, sharing community.

The 12 Steps
The 12 Step Program is basically a spiritual ladder. Since the alcoholic feels that he himself is unable stop his
drinking and take control of his life, the 12 Steps are designed to connect the alcoholic with a benevolent "higher

power" who takes control for him. AA claims that by following this program, an alcoholic can overcome his
problem. Here are the 12 Steps:
1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or
others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, we promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood
Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to
alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The main elements of the program are admitting the addiction; admitting that one is unable to overcome the
addiction on his own; making a strong connection to God and believing that He will take the addiction away. The
basis of this approach is summed up in a prayer that group members are encouraged to recite, called the
"Serenity Prayer."
THE SERENITY PRAYER
God, grant me the
SERENITY
to accept the things I cannot change
COURAGE
to change the things I can
and WISDOM
to know the difference.
Another important factor in the recovery process is supportive group encounters where alcoholics talk openly
about their problems and struggles and find hope and encouragement from the group.
Many people come to AA because they realize they are very unhappy and long for salvation. Others have not yet
reached this conclusion and come to AA because their spouse has demanded it, or because of an encounter with
the police. They are taught that bad habits, like drinking alcohol, can seriously hinder professional advancement,
personal and family happiness, and self-growth.

Narcotics Anonymous follows the same model as AA. The program also

places importance on trusting in a "higher power", which they often refer to as God. Individuals are left to define
this higher power for themselves, in whatever form or religious identification they choose. The 12 Steps are the
basis of the NA program as well.

Gamblers Anonymous is also based on the 12 Step philosophy. Statistics indicate that GA has a lower
success rate than other addiction recovery organizations like AA and NA. It has been suggested that this is due
to GA's lack of focus on the principles of spirituality that are emphasized in other Twelve Step programs. It has
been argued that GA is much more secularized than AA.

Sexaholics Anonymous
Since Sexaholics Anonymous deals specifically with the issue of misused sexual energy, we will quote some of
their literature in length. More information can be found at their website: http://www.sa.org/

The Problem
Many of us felt inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid. Our insides never matched what we saw on the outsides
of others.
Early on, we came to feel disconnected -- from parents, from peers, from ourselves. We tuned out with fantasy
and masturbation. We plugged in by drinking in the pictures, the images, and pursuing the objects of our
fantasies. We lusted and wanted to be lusted after.
We became true addicts: sex with self, and sometimes promiscuity, adultery, dependency relationships, and
more fantasy. We got it through the eyes; we bought it, we sold it, we traded it, we gave it away. We were
addicted to the intrigue, the tease, the forbidden. The only way we knew to be free of it was to do it. "Please
connect with me and make me whole!" we cried with outstretched arms. Lusting after the Big Fix, we gave away
our power to others.
This produced guilt, self-hatred, remorse, emptiness, and pain, and we were driven ever inward, away from
reality, away from love, lost inside ourselves.
Our habit made true intimacy impossible. We could never know real union with another because we were
addicted to the unreal. We went for the "chemistry," the connection that had the magic, because it by-passed
intimacy and true union. Fantasy corrupted the real; lust killed love.
We took from others to fill up what was lacking in ourselves. Conning ourselves time and again that the next one
would save us, we were really losing our lives.
1982, 1989, 2001 SA Literature.
1997-2007 Sexaholics Anonymous Inc.

The Solution
We saw that our problem was three-fold: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Healing had to come about in all
three.
The crucial change in attitude began when we admitted we were powerless, that our habit had us whipped. We
came to meetings and withdrew from our habit. For some, this meant no sex with themselves or others, including
not getting into relationships. For others it meant "drying out" and not having sex with the spouse for a time to
recover from lust.
We discovered that we could stop, that not feeding the hunger didn't kill us, that sex was indeed optional! There
was hope for freedom, and we began to feel alive. Encouraged to continue, we turned more and more away from
our isolating obsession with sex and self and turned to God and others.

All this was scary. We couldn't see the path ahead, except that others had gone that way before. Each new step
of surrender felt it would be off the edge into oblivion, but we took it. And instead of killing us, surrender was
killing the obsession! We had stepped into the light, into a whole new way of life.
The fellowship gave us monitoring and support to keep us from being overwhelmed, a safe haven where we
could finally face ourselves. Instead of covering our feelings with compulsive sex, we began exposing the roots of
our spiritual emptiness and hunger. And the healing began.
As we faced our defects, we became willing to change; surrendering them broke the power they had over us. We
began to be more comfortable with ourselves and others for the first time without our "drug."
Forgiving all who had injured us, and without injuring others, we tried to right our own wrongs. At each amends
more of the dreadful load of guilt dropped from our shoulders, until we could lift our heads, look the world in the
eye, and stand free.
We began practicing a positive sobriety, taking the actions of love to improve our relations with others. We were
learning how to give; and the measure we gave was the measure we got back. We were finding what none of the
substitutes had ever supplied. We were making the real Connection. We were home.
1982, 1989, 2001 SA Literature.
1997-2007 Sexaholics Anonymous Inc.
What is a Sexaholic and What is Sexual Sobriety?
We can only speak for ourselves. The specialized nature of Sexaholics Anonymous can best be understood in
terms of what we call the sexaholic. The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is
right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has
become an addiction. Our situation is like that of the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and must stop
drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with the sexaholic, or sex drunk, who can no longer
tolerate lust but cannot stop.
Thus, for the sexaholic, any form of sex with one's self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively
addictive and destructive. We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and true sobriety
includes progressive victory over lust. These conclusions were forced upon us in the crucible of our experiences
and recovery; we have no other options. But we have found that acceptance of these facts is the key to a happy
and joyous freedom we could otherwise never know.
This will and should discourage many inquirers who admit to sexual obsession or compulsion but who simply
want to control and enjoy it, much as the alcoholic would like to control and enjoy drinking. Until we had been
driven to the point of despair, until we really wanted to stop but could not, we did not give ourselves to this
program of recovery. Sexaholics Anonymous is for those who know they have no other option but to stop, and
their own enlightened self-interest must tell them this.
1989, 2001 SA Literature.

Test Yourself
If you recognize yourself and your behavior in these questions, then chances are you have an addiction that
needs to be cured.
1.

4.

Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
2. That you'd be better off if you didn't keep "giving in"?
3. That sex or stimuli are controlling you?
Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?
5. Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can't cope?
6. Do you feel guilt, remorse or depression afterwards?

7. Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive?


8. Does it interfere with relations with your spouse?
9. Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex?
10. Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes the overtures or sex is offered?
11. Do you keep going from one "relationship" or lover to another?
12. Do you feel the "right relationship" would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous?
13. Do you have a destructive need -- a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone?
14. Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others?
15. Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive?
16. Do you lose time from work for it?
17. Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex?
18. Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act?
19. Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others?
20. Have you ever been arrested for a sex-related offense?

The Twelve Steps - Once Again


1. We admitted we were powerless over lust--that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or
others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, we promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood
Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to
sexoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
SA adaptation 1982, 1984, 1989, 2001 SA Literature.
1997-2007 Sexaholics Anonymous Inc.

Pornoholics Anonymous

Pornoholics Anonymous helps break the habit


Whether it is Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, or Sexaholics Anonymous,
certain basic principles remain the same. In order to break free of the habit, it first must be recognized for the
terrible and destructive addiction that it is. A deep inner decision must be made to stop. A program or plan is
needed to break the habit. We have seen that these organizations base their programs on the same 12 Steps.

As a prerequisite, the addict must remove himself completely from all possession and access to the source of his
addiction, whether it be alcohol, narcotics, forms of gambling, unacceptable sexual practices, or pornography
and the like. In addition, the addict should confess his problem to his family, or to someone he trusts, or to an
organization that deals with the problem and its treatment. This is because a person will more likely find it easier
to stop his or her addiction if the closest people in their lives are behind them in their endeavor. But if this proves
impossible, a person should believe that he can still overcome his addiction on his own. Nevertheless, since the
struggle is difficult, a person should seriously consider seeking professional help. Lastly, it is important to be firm
in ones conviction. Lapses and setbacks are normal, but a former addict must not let them drag him or her back
to the destructive behavioral patterns of the past.

The Torah Way


Now we are going to take all of this very useful knowledge and give it a special Torah application in suggesting a
program for overcoming the addiction to Internet pornography and the sexual sins that result from it. In doing this,
we are going to offer a unique 12 Steps of our own, as a Jewish parallel to the programs that we have studied.
For a deeper understanding of the transgressions involved in viewing porn on the Internet, readers are
encouraged to study the book, "Secret of the Brit," chapters of which can be found online at this website:
jewishsexuality.com. Often, because a person has not learned the secrets of Torah, he is not aware of the great
damage that he causes himself and all spiritual worlds when he violates the injunction, "Thou shall not go astray
after your hearts and your eyes." To illustrate this point, let's take a look at two sections from the book to
remember some of things that our Sages have taught.

Gazing at Women
"Not only is physical contact with women prohibited, gazing at them to enjoy their beauty is also a serious Torah
transgression." (Shulchan Oruch, Even HaEzer, Ch. 300, Section 100:2)
Regarding the Torah commandment, "You shall not go astray after your hearts and after your eyes, (Bamidbar,
15:39) the Talmud explains: "After your hearts - this refers to idolatry. After your eyes - this refers to sexual
immorality." (Berachot 12B)
"The eye and the heart are the two instruments of sin. The eye sees, the heart desires, and the body completes
the action." (Rashi on Bamidbar, 25:39)

The instrument of porn addiction


Today, because of the promiscuity and immodesty that pervade modern life and Western culture, we have
become accustomed to this state of affairs, as if this is the natural way to be. However, Jewish Laws demands a
higher level of moral behavior.
"Whoever gazes at a woman forbidden to him, and says to himself that there is nothing wrong with this, for he
hasn't had sexual relations with her, or even touched her, he is mistaken. Gazing at women is a serious
wrongdoing, for it brings a man to sexual transgression, as it says, You shall not go astray after your hearts and
after your eyes." (Hilchot Tshuva of the Rambam, 4:4)
The Gemara teaches: "You should guard yourself from every evil thing - this means a man should not gaze at an
attractive woman, even a single one, nor at a married woman, even if she is ugly." (Avodah Zora 20A.)
This is because, "A man shouldn't have sexual thoughts in the day and come to seminal impurity at night."
(Avodah Zora 20B.)

Windows of the Soul


A person shouldn't think that he is wiser than the Torah and the great Talmudic rabbis who labored to explain the
depth and wisdom of Jewish Law. If he says, "I go to the beach and enter adult sites on the Internet all the time,
and nothing happens to me," he is tragically mistaken. Gazing at attractive women, whether at the beach, the
movies, in provocative magazines, on the Internet, or on the street, causes more damage to the spiritual world of
a Jew than eating forbidden foods such as pork. Eating non-kosher foods pollutes the nefesh, the lower physical
soul of a man. Gazing at women, however, pollutes the neshama, the Divine soul itself. In doing so, it damages
the flow of Divine blessing emanating from the highest spiritual realms.
The eyes are the windows of the soul. The holiness of a Jew is dependent on the degree to which he guards his
eyes from looking at forbidden images. When a man sees an immodestly dressed woman or an erotic
photograph, his desire is aroused. Automatically, his spiritual world is polluted. Automatically, a soul is released
from his brain and joined with a seed of seminal fluid. If he does not sense the spiritual shock to his being, it is
because his soul has already become darkened and dulled by his habitual mistakes.
"The moment a man gazes upon a forbidden image, or at a woman whom he is not permitted to look at, a large
and frightful klipah is created by this, along with an evil spirit, each time he looks. Resulting from this, when he
has a sexual thought, with every fantasy he violates the Torah prohibition, "And you shall guard yourself from

everything evil." All the more so if, G-d forbid, this thought brings him to a sexual transgression." (Taharat
HaKodesh, Ch. 3)
A person addicted to porn on the Internet has to realize that his physical and spiritual health and wellbeing, and
the wellbeing of his family, depends on his behavior. He has to think that the Torah is referring to him and his
home when it states regarding the impurity of a discharge of semen in vain: "The L-rd thy G-d walks in the midst
of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to vanquish thy enemies before thee; therefore thy camp shall be holy, that He
see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee" (Devarim, 23:15). The pornography in a person's
computer, and, by watching it, in his head, is in itself an unclean thing that drives G-d away from him and his
home, and adversely influences his life and the lives of his loved ones.
In the section on Sexaholics Anonymous, we saw how depression and low self-esteem can lead to sexual
transgression and addiction. While just about anyone can have a secret problem with Internet porn, SA identified
depression as a prime factor in moral decline. Certainly a man who is fired from his job and sits at home alone all
day in his melancholy is a prime candidate for Internet misuse. While there are undeniable emotional and
psychological influences connected with the succumbing to bad habits, there are deep spiritual causes as well.
In his treatise on the phenomenon of repentance, "Orot HaT'shuva," Rabbi Kook explains that the underlying
cause of melancholy is a separation from G-d which is brought about because of our sins. Instead of feeling the
light and love of G-d's presence, the depressed person experiences darkness and isolation. Clicking on to porn
on the Internet gives the addict an imaginary feeling of connection, but because it isn't real, the connection
doesn't last, and the addict needs more and more. This emptiness leads to continuing transgression and a
greater disengagement from G-d.
Sensing that G-d is not in him, the addict falls into more self-destructive behavior and eventual despair. In a
deep, unconscious way, he uses his addiction to punish himself for his sins. In effect, he creates his own hell. In
Kabbalistic terms, he draws a dark, impure klipah, or impure spirit, around himself that seduces him on to more
and more evil. Kabbalists say that if he could see the punishment he brings on his soul, he would be mortified.
The klipot that his transgressions create beat upon him mercilessly, both spiritually, mentally, and in his day to
day life, interfering in everything that he does, and affording him no peace of mind whatsoever.
The only cure, Rabbi Kook writes is t'shuva which comes like a burst of sunlight after a tempestuous storm. In
essence, the 12 Torah Steps are a pathway to t'shuva and to forging a loving and lasting connection to G-d that
infuses life with transcendent light and meaning, banishing all of the impurity and darkness.

Getting Started
To break the addiction to watching pornography on the Internet, after you have admitted the gravity of your
addiction and

This is my absolute last fix.


have made the firm decision to stop, the first thing to do is get your computer out of the house. It would be good if
you could throw it in the garbage. Remember, we learned that an alcoholic has to keep away from booze, and a
narcotics addict has to keep away from drugs and any people or situation that might lead him to drugs. This is
not new advice. To make sure that a Nazir keeps away from wine, the Torah also forbids grape juice and grapes.
The Sages even advise him to avoid passing a vineyard.

Thus, if getting rid of your computer is impossible, either because you need it for work, or the kids would go crazy
without one, then at least cancel your Internet service. It is as simple as that.
If the pornography isn't in your home, you won't be able to watch it and get snared in its temptations. And if this
too is impossible for whatever genuine reason, and make double sure that the reason is real, then have your
wife, or a friend, download every porn filter they can without telling you the code. While these systems aren't
foolproof, they will greatly reduce your chances of falling back into old ways.
Remember that part of the cure is telling other people, so even though you may be embarrassed by this
confession, it is a necessary part of the program. If you can't do it with your wife, then find someone else. Note
that one can accomplish this stage without specific confession. Simply state to your wife and daughters: "Of
course, I need a filtering program. I am a healthy man with all of my strengths and therefore, I, like any G-d
fearing Jew, need a filter installed with a secret code." I once sat at the internet-enabled computer in the home of
a great Torah scholar of our generation who has authored important Torah works . When locked out of a
legitimate site due to the porn filter's over sensitive screening, he called over his daughter to insert the code and
open the site. Only his wife and daughters knew the code.
Even with a filter installed, it is best not to sit down at a computer alone. Make

sure that someone is with you, not across the room, but sitting at your side, so that you don't bypass the filters
and sneak into a site you shouldn't see. Addicts tend to be clever people who have learned all of the tricks, so
until the 12 Steps sink in, supervision is advised.
The Chofetz Chaim had an encouraging word for people who had a problem with speaking lashon hara
(speaking bad about other people). He taught that if you are tempted to say lashon hara, yet keep yourself from
saying it three times in succession, you are on the way to breaking your habit. This is true with every sin, and
also with watching porn. As the expression goes, what is out of sight is out of mind. The more you keep away
from temptation, the less it will haunt you. With the spiritual reinforcement that a person will receive by following
the 12 Torah Steps, his abstinence will lead him to discover that he doesn't need his addiction at all.
Don't expect your addiction to disappear overnight, and don't fall into despair if you suffer a setback. Only true
tzaddikim (righteous ones) do not have impure thoughts, and we are not on their level. The holy Tanya explains
that when a person has a lustful thought and pushes the temptation away with both hands, every time he expels
the wicked fantasy from his mind, he breaks the force of Sitra Achra (the Other Side), and brings about a great
rectification in all spiritual worlds. When a person places his love and reverence for G-d over his passion for lust,
his action sanctifies G-d more than any other praise. "Therefore," the Tanya states, "no person should feel
depressed, nor should his heart become exceedingly troubled, even though he be engaged all his days in this
conflict, for perhaps because of this was he created, and this is his service - to constantly subjugate the Sitra
Achra" (Tanya, Ch. 27). Each time a person overcomes his yetzer, he draws a sublime holiness upon himself
from Above to aid him in his service of G-d.
Thus, when a person bent on tshuva sits down at a computer, even though erotic thoughts continue to rise up in
his mind, he should be happy that he reverts his mind from them in order to fulfill the commandment, "Thou shall
not stray after your heart and after your eyes which lead you astray." A person who abstains from committing a
sin, receives a reward as if he had performed a precept. So he should rejoice in his lot and know that there is
great value in his struggle, even though he doesn't become a complete tzaddik immediately.
One final note before the 12 Torah Steps in beating Porn. We learned in our study of Alcoholics Anonymous that
a support group is an important factor in the fighting addiction. When it comes to addiction to pornography on the
Internet, it may not be possible to find such a group. A possibility is to see if Sexaholics Anonymous has a group
in your area.

But if you are religious, considering the taboo surrounding the problem, you may be hesitant to ask.
Nevertheless, as we learned, confessing your addiction to others, whether it be to family, friends, a professional
counselor, or rescue organization, is an important element in your chances for success. Since our 12 Step plan is
based on the Torah, it is important to find a rabbi who can guide you along the way. Breaking the porn addiction
and the snare of sexual transgression involves a lot more than downloading a filter that will screen out things you
shouldn't see. It means adopting a life of t'shuva and Torah. If you are already religious, it means committing
yourself to a greater devotion to Torah and a more intimate reverence of G-d. If in the past, you forgot about G-d
every time you tuned on the computer, now you have to think about G-d all the time. So being in touch with a
rabbi, or Torah scholar who is familiar with the secrets of the Brit, is a vital part of your journey. In addition, if you
can't find a group, you should endeavor to associate with people who appreciate your strivings to get closer to Gd and to Torah. If you put the same energy into your recovery as you put into your addiction, you will surely
succeed. When a person comes to sanctify himself, even if a little, then G-d sanctifies him in a great measure
from Above. So, remember, you are never alone in your quest. G-d is willing and eager to help.

THE 12 TORAH STEPS


At the outset, we want to emphasize that this is not a complete list of the many effective remedies and
atonements that our Sages have formulated for sexual transgression and self-correction, but rather a basic
guideline that can serve as a foundation for the lifetime of Torah and t'shuva that must follow, in order not to
return to the mistakes of the past. People are encouraged to read the chapters of the book, "Secret of the Brit,"
posted in abridged format on jewishsexuality.com for an overall understanding of the damage caused by all forms
of sexual transgression and ways to build a renewed connection to G-d.
1.

We admitted that we were powerless over lust -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves, the One and Only Creator, who gave the
Torah to His nation Israel, could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d, and to cling fast to the
commandments and the teachings of His Torah.
4. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to others, especially to a Torah scholar, the exact nature of our
wrongs, and made a commitment not to repeat our mistakes.
5. We were entirely ready to put our trust in G-d and have Him remove all of our transgressions through
our heartfelt t'shuva, and to trust Him to help us correct unhealthy character traits, and to rectify our
moral shortcomings and the spiritual damages we caused. We humbly begged Him to remove our
shortcomings and forgive our sins.
6. We took upon ourselves to immerse in a purifying mikvah as often as we could, and to stop gazing
at women, or pictures of women, whether on the Internet, on TV or the movies, in magazines or in the
street.
7. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and made direct amends to such people wherever
possible, except when to do so would embarrass or injure them, as in the case of children too young to
understand.
8. We set upon a course of constant t'shuva, making a daily personal inventory, and if we erred and
sinned as before, we promptly admitted it.
9. We fervently prayed to forge a constant, joyous connection to G-d, and spoke to him out loud, on a
regular basis as a man speaks to a friend, admitting our weaknesses and fears, and asking for His help
in all of our doings, placing special importance on the recital of Tehillim, and the Bedtime Shema with
great intention, and the midnight lamentation "Tikun Hatzot" over the destruction of Jerusalem, and
special prayers called "Tikunim" designed to rectify the damage we caused to the Brit.
10. We took upon ourselves a loving, joyous, and diligent commitment to Torah study for its own sake,
including the study of the secrets of Torah, applying ourselves to the learning with the same fervor and
passion we once wasted on vanity, and we sought out holy Jewish sages who could help illuminate our
learning, knowing that it was in the power of the holy Hebrew letters of the Torah to heal the damage
we caused to our eyes, to our souls, and to the world.
11. We took upon ourselves a new heightened level in the fear and reverence of G-d, including a
heightened concentration in our daily prayers, in the recital of blessings, and in the proper performance
of the commandments, including the sanctification of the marital union, accepting stringencies upon
ourselves, rather than pretending that immodest behavior was perfectly all right.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others,
and to practice these principles with all of our strength and with all of our hearts, with the supreme joy
of knowing that G-d has forgiven us and created us anew.
2.

Follow-Up
A patient, steadfast commitment to these 12 Torah Steps is sure to bring healing to ones eyes and ones soul. An
important thing to remember is, "Don't worry - be happy." As Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches, "The whole
world is a narrow bridge, but the most important thing is never to be afraid at all."
Also, while an actual recovery group may not be possible to organize, we have opened a "Virtual Recovery
Group" at the JewishSexuality.com Pornoholics Anonymous Forum, where people can write about their
addictions and challenges, relate their successes and setbacks, share their experiences, and offer helpful tips
that others can benefit from.
But this is just to get the beginner started. Once a person has made a commitment to do t'shuva, let's hope that
he stays as far away from the Internet as he can.

Tikun Hatzot - The Actual Text


Part 1: Tikun Rachel
Tikun Hatzot is divided into two parts: 1) Tikun Rachel which appears in Hebrew below and 2) Tikun Leah [Note
Though print button on above right displays dark blue background, it prints fine]

Sages of the Kabbalah have emphasized the supreme value in reciting Tikun Hatzot, known as the Midnight
Lamentation, when a Jew rises in the night to express anguish over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and
the exile of the Shechinah. at the same time that HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One, Blessed Be He) mourns
its destruction in His nocturnal Heavenly Court.
It is written in the Talmud: "Rav Yitzhak the son of Shmuel said in the name of Rav, There are three watches in
the night, and on each watch HaKodesh Baruch Hu roars like a lion and cries out: 'Woe to the children whose
transgressions brought about the destruction of My house, causing Me to burn My holy sanctuary and to exile
them among the nations'" (Berachot 3A).
Selected laws:
If a person rises in the night in the month of Elul and only has time to say Selichot or to recite Tikun Hatzot, he
should recite Tikun Hatzot.
Someone who awakens from a regular sleep (as opposed to a nap) at midnight or afterward to recite Tikun
Hatzot should wash his hands like in the morning and recite the morning blessings and the blessings over the
Torah before reciting the Tikun and learning Torah. When reciting the first half of Tikun Hatzot called Tikun
Rachel, it is proper to spread a cloth on floor and sit barefooted near the entranceway to the house by the
mezuzah to show one's participation in the sorrow of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) which has been expelled
from its house. It is also praiseworthy to place ashes on one's forehead as a sign of mourning over the Temple's
destruction and to wear sackcloth over one's flesh. An old, sick, or weak person can recite the Tikun while sitting
in a chair.
Tikun Leah, the second half of Tikun Hatzot, is recited in a chair, wearing shoes, etc.
The proper time for Tikun Hatzot is from the middle of the night (not 12:00 AM, but rather half-way between
sundown and sunrise) until dawn, which is approx. 90 minutes before sunrise. Midnight is the ideal time. Genrally
both Tikun Rachel and Tikun Leah are said together. However,

On Shabbat, Yom Tov, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Chol HaMoed Pesach, Tikun Hatzot is not
recited at all.

Only Tikun Leah is recited on the following ocassions: the Ten Days of T'shuva, Chol HaMoed Sukkot,
the entire Shemittah year in the Land of Israel, the days of the Omer until Shavuot, the night of Rosh
Chodesh, any night that Tachanun is not said the following day because of a holiday.
There is an opinion that woman are not to recite Tikun Hatzot. However, other authorities permit it (Shar
HaKavanot 54a) and "a woman who is G-d-fearing and wishes to recite Tikun Hatzot will be blessed" (Kaf
HaChayim).
The main intenion (kavanah) in reciting Tikun Hatzot is that a person feel anguish over the Shechinah which is in
exile because of our sins.
The vidui (confession) said before Tikun Hatzot is not said in the month of Elul and the Ten Days of T'shuva when
the confession is said in the recital of Selichot.


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Awesome, Awe-Inspiring Prayer For The Month Of Elul

[Composed by Rabbi Natan of Breslov, foremost disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov]


May it be Thy will the L-rd my G-d, and G-d of my forefathers, that you assist me and grant me the merit in Your
great compassion and your awesome kindness, that I speedily merit to truly feel the pain of my many abundant
and awful sins, transgressions, and willful violations of the Torah that are piled up high to the sky, as innumerable
as the sands of the earth - especially the sexual sins that I committed which blemished the Covenant of the Brit,
the blemishes to the seminal drops that issue forth from the brain, that I spilled in vain, whether accidentally or
knowingly, whether against my will or willfully.
If I were to begin to feel the depth of the anguish of this awesome and terrible blemish, I do not know if I could
continue to exist, even for an hour, since You have taught us through Your righteous Tzaddikim the magnitude of
this stain which prolongs the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, and delays the Redemption, and causes the
Shechina to descend into exile, G-d forbid, and dooms the disembodied souls to the realm of the klipot, where
from each drop of wasted semen a destroying agent is created, may the Compassionate One have mercy. And
many other vast and terrible blemishes result from this, for all of the Torah is dependent on the Rectification of
the Brit, which is the foundation of everything. For this transgression damages all of the twenty-two letters of the
Torah, because the seminal drop is composed from them, as is known.
Truly, my heart is closed, and confused, and crooked, to such an extent that I don't feel at all the pain over my
numerous and weighty transgressions, even when I speak about them.
O, what is with me, what is with me? Even if I were to say a thousand times, "O, what is with me?" I still feel
nothing at all. What can I say? What can I claim? What can I ask for? How can I justify my deeds?
Nonetheless, You are compassionate with all mankind, and You see to the end of all generations, and you will
perfect all of us one day as You have promised. Therefore, to You I raise my hands in supplication. O mighty
Redeemer, help me! Teach me and instruct me at every moment, in whatever manner, in whatever way, how I
can merit to return to You in truth, from evil to good, from death to life, for my existence is very bitter.
My Father, my Creator, and my Redeemer, help me and save me quickly, that I merit to truly return to You with a
whole heart. Circumcise the evil foreskin of my heart, and open my heart in a manner that I will be able to feel the
anguish of my innumerable transgressions, so that I will be able to cry out from my heart a great and bitter cry,
fitting to my station - to cry out again and again Oy, Oy, Oy, over these weighty and terrible sins, to scream out in
truth with a full and broken and saddened heart, from its very depths, until the hearts of all of the souls of the
seminal drops that emanated from me, wherever they may be, will also feel my anguish, both the drops that went
forth in a permitted manner and became my real children, may they live a long and healthy life, and, on the
contrary, the drops that I spilled in vain, whether accidentally or willfully, and became what they became, each
and every one of them, woe is me, woe is me.
May my cry awaken them and cause the foreskins of their hearts to be circumcised also so that all of them,
wherever they may be, will feel the depth of their pain and sorrow, understanding that they are imprisoned in the
abyss of the underworld, in polluted places so frightening that it cannot be spoken, that such a thunderous noise
be raised amongst them, that all of them be awakened to return to the Blessed One in truth, to begin to yearn,
and to feel genuine sorrow, and to truly desire to be rectified and to return to G-d in truth, until Your benefiting
compassion is awakened, Your hidden mercy, Your great and goodly compassion, over me and over them.
Please act to heal us and redeem us speedily from the depths of the grave, and from all of the impure and
polluted realms into which we have fallen. Save us, redeem us, extract us from all of these place in safety.
Rectify us. May the King quickly return His scattered outcasts, for Your providence extends over everything.
Circumcise our hearts to love Your Name, as is written, "And the L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart and the
heart of your seed to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."
Our Father, our King, the living G-d, our Maker, our Portion, save our beloved remnant from destruction for the
sake of the Covenant that You stamped in our flesh. Grant me the merit to quickly circumcise the foreskin of my
heart and that of my offspring, especially during these holy days of Elul. Grant me the merit that I may now truly
prepare myself spiritually so that I may merit that these special holy days of Elul work in my behalf to help me

completely circumcise the foreskin of my heart and the hearts of my offspring in truth, so that I may merit in this
present lifetime to completely rectify my wrongdoings and blemishes in the merit of the true Tzaddikim
(Righteous Jews), myself and my offspring and all those who are dependent upon me, that I not be ashamed and
embarrassed and fail forever, being left in my initial shame, so that my transgressions have no power to hover in
waiting over the opening of my grave, G-d forbid. Rather, allow me to rectify everything in this lifetime, in the
power and merit of the true Tzaddikim, for I have no hope or support without them, for we are still waiting for the
good and promised salvation that will come in their merit and strength.
You who is full of mercy, consider me in kindness and have compassion upon me and rescue me from shame
and humiliation, that no destructive or evil agent will have the power to approach me at the time of my death, and
that they should not follow after my coffin, G-d forbid. Please in your great mercy, cast them far from me, and
totally wipe them out, now and forever more. Have mercy on me in Your abundant pardon and mighty
forgiveness that I merit to rectify in my lifetime everything that I damaged with my sins. Forgive me for everything
in this lifetime, so that I will not have to face any judgment and sentence in the world to come. Even though I
know that in truth I am far from deserving this kind of salvation, for through what do I merit such a thing?
Nevertheless, I trust in Your great compassion and I rest on Your kindness, on Your forgiveness I wait, and on
Your salvation I yearn, through the merit and power of the true Tzaddikim of our time, and through the merit of
the true Tzaddikim who rest in the earth, on them we lean for support, and in their merit I have come before You
with my plea.
Therefore, I stand and anticipate and hope for Your mighty salvation, that I speedily merit the fulfillment of all that
I have asked for in Your Presence, for You look toward the evil doer and desire his repentance and his return to
the righteous way. And if I have greatly delayed in returning to You, and even added more and more frightful
transgressions each day, nevertheless, I still anticipate each day that my salvation will come with my soul's
redemption, that I may quickly merit to awaken from my slumber, and to rise from my fallen state, to rise up from
my descent, and to return to life from the death that has seized me, to return to You in truth and with a whole
heart, me and my seed, and my children's offspring, and all the seed of Your nation the House of Israel, from now
until forever, Amen, Selah.

By the Gaon, Rabbi Aharon Rota


(Excerpted from the article "Taharat HaMikvah" in the book "Taharat HaKodesh")
You should know, my brother, that in addition to the purification that comes from immersing in a mikvah, an
exalted matter in itself, when a person immerses with the intent of sanctifying himself, he draws over himself a
great holiness. Immersing in a mikvah is also one of the main paths to rectifying blemishes to the soul (nefesh),
others being repentance through fasting, self-chastisement, and tears.
Behold, the principle entranceway to holiness is through he purity of the mikvah. It is known that the masters of
Kabbalah, like the Baal Shem Tov, made mikvah an integral part of their Divine service. Also note that in order to
convert, a non-Jew must immerse in a mikvah. Even though a brit milah be performed on him, if he does not
immerse in a mikvah, he is not considered a convert to Israel.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed to his students that it was due to his mikvah immersions that he attained
his transcendental levels of holiness.
You should also be aware, my brother, that there is an external and inner process of purification that transpires
through immersing. There are myriads of external forces of impurity, called "plagues of the sons of man," and evil
spirits that are created through a person's sins, whether it be transgressions in thought, speech, or deed. By far,
the main source of these harmful agents of impurity are created through sexual sins, for these are considered his
actual children, which he created, and which do not give him rest for a moment, both in his life in this world and in
the next. They do not leave him until he has undergone many painful sufferings and scourging fires in the
afterlife. And truly, he is fortunate if he is able to shed himself from them all, for their numbers are uncountable.
When a person immerses himself in a purifying mikvah with the intention of atonement from his sins and spiritual
cleansing, all of the agents of impurity which surround him are cast away for a period of time. This interval of

purity is beneficial indeed for it gives great strength to the soul (nefesh). And even though the forces of impurity
return to cleave to him after the influence of the mikvah has worn off, nonetheless, when his intention is to
sanctify himself, great numbers are vanquished, and his soul becomes immeasurably strengthened in holiness in
the battle against the evil inclination.
There is also an inner purification that occurs during immersion, and this is the main thing. To illustrate, imagine
that a person is stricken with a disease over all of his body. Though he cover his body with all kinds of ointments,
they will only grant temporary relief. Only when the inner cause of the disease is treated will the outer symptoms
cease.
Similarly, to affect inner purity, one must treat the sickness of the soul, which is caused by the evil inclination and
its hosts. Every inner aspect of a person's being (nefesh, ruach, neshama) must be purged. This is the reason
that we are in this world, and it is the essence of man's labor.

An ancient mikva at Masada


If a man immerses himself in a mikvah with the proper preparation and with the proper holy intentions, then he
brings a great cleansing to his inner soul. This transpires because, concurrently, at the time of his immersion, the
root of his upper soul is purified in the celestial river of Gan Eden, bringing purity down to the soul in his body.
This weakens the power of the evil inclination, and his being is purified through the great holiness drawn down
from above to his soul.
This purification is even greater if the water is cold, in that he fulfills the verse, "Cold waters on a weary soul"
(Mishle, 25:25). For cold water heals the weak and weary soul from the blows of the evil inclination. For you
should know, my brother, that just as it would cause you great anguish to see one man smash another man's
skull and cruelly beat him to a merciless pulp with blow after murderous blow, so it is each time a man sins, the
evil inclination pounds away at his soul with cruel and devastating blows. If our physical eyes could see this, and
if our ears could hear the tortuous screams of the soul, we could not bear it for a moment. This is exactly what
happens when a person sins against the Almighty, letting his evil inclination gain control within him and punish
him with a plague of murderous blows from his head to his foot.
Thus, when a soul, weakened and weary from sin, enters the cold waters of a mikvah, this brings renewed life
and healing from its sicknesses and wounds. And the more he strives to sanctify himself through the immersion
by sanctifying his thoughts, he in turn receives greater sanctification from above.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed to his students that it was due to his mikvah immersions that he attained his
transcendental levels of holiness. And even though it is also said that he attained his exalted stature due to his
fervent praying, both explanations are true, for it is precisely the purification of the mikvah that brought an
awesome holiness to his prayers.
Through the power of mikvah, a Tzaddik can bring about salvations, heal the sick, and facilitate women in difficult
labors to give birth. Just as the mikvah can help an individual to sweeten harsh judgments and annul evil

decrees adversely affecting his life, immersion in the mikvah can enable the true Tzaddik to sweeten and annul
harsh judgments from over the entire Jewish People, so great is the power of mikvah.
Therefore, know, my brother and intimate friend, that when you go to the mikvah, you are on your way to banish
the evil aspect of your being and to banish myriads of the countless, impure husks that surround you. Know that
you are going to do your share in rectifying the world and in purifying and rectifying your soul. Therefore, my
brother, don't betray your soul by allowing vain and foolish thoughts to keep you from going to the mikvah,
causing you to forfeit the awesome holiness it brings.

"Igeret Hakodesh" Of The Ramban


The Holiness Of Marital Relations
(Abridged for the Internet)
Introduction

Ramban Synagogue, Jerusalem


The Ramban, Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, known as Nachmonides, lived in the years, 1195-1270. Along with his
illustrious predecessor, the Rambam, he is considered one of the great Torah giants of all time. His "Commentary
on the Torah" is regularly studied alongside the commentary of Rashi. He was both a noted halachic [Jewish
legal] authority, and an outstanding Kabbalist, two disciplines that go hand-in-hand.
The famous "Letter of the Ramban to his Son" has become a standard addition to most prayer books. Like the
Rambam, he was a practicing physician. After his triumphant defense of the Jewish Faith in a public disputation
with an apostate in Spain, he journeyed to the Land of Israel and helped revitalize the Jewish community in
Jerusalem, after the Holy City had been destroyed by the Mongols. In his "Igeret Hakodesh," he brings both his
medical and mystical knowledge to shed light on the holiness of the marital union.

Igeret Hakodesh
Please know, my brother, that our nation, the nation of Israel, is special to the Holy One Blessed Be He, and
separated from all other nations by His holy Torah, just as He is separated from all things in His essence, as it
says, "I will separate you from all other nations to be Mine" (Leviticus, 2:26).
As you know, a servant is to behave in the manner of his master. And Hashem is our master, and we are His
servants. Just as He is supremely holy, He has commanded us to be holy, as it says, "Sanctify yourselves and
be holy" (Leviticus, 11:44).
Since in all of our deeds we are to resemble Hashem, praised be He, when we do what is good and upright, we
sanctify His great Name, because we are His nation. However, when we act in an improper and corrupted
manner, we bring disgrace to His great Name. Thus, because we are to resemble Him, the Sanctification of His
Name and the Desecration of His Name are dependent upon us.
A man's conduct during the marital act determines whether or not he will give birth to righteous children
who will sanctify the Name of G-d.

Knowing all this, we must understand that a person's nature, whether for good or evil, is directly influenced by the
manner of marital relations and the seminal issue resulting from it. Thus, the way a man conducts himself during
the marital union is a cause for the Sanctification of Hashem or the Desecration of His Name, and this finds
expression in his offspring. Thus we have been commanded and warned to sanctify ourselves at the time of the
marital union, as our Sages have taught on the verse, "And you shall warn the children of Israel..." (Leviticus,
15:31). This is because a man's conduct during the marital act determines whether or not he will give birth to
righteous children who will sanctify the Name of G-d.
This being the case, a man must sanctify himself during marital relations. This sanctification has five divisions:

First - The Essence of the Marital Union

Second - The Time of the Union


Third - Nutrition Beneficial to the Union

Fourth - Intention of the Union

Fifth - Quality of the Union

First - The Essence Of The Marital Union


Just like a person's hands are honored and praiseworthy when he

writes a Torah scroll, and dishonored when he performs some vile act, so were the sexual
organs of Adam and his wife pure before their transgression. -- When a husband couples with
his wife in holiness, the Shechinah rests between them. -- The proper holy union of a husband
and wife is like the Creation of heaven and earth.
Know that this union is a holy and pure thing when it is properly conducted in the proper time, and with the proper
intention. A person should not think that in this proper union there is something ugly or degrading, G-d forbid. The
proper union is called "knowing" from the word "Daat" meaning knowledge, as it says, "And Elkanah knew
Hannah his wife" (Shmuel 1: 1:19). The use of this word is not happenstance, for the secret of the matter is that
when the seminal seed is brought forth in holiness and purity, it is brought forth from the place of Daat
(knowledge) and Binah (understanding) centered in the brain. If this act did not possess great holiness, this union
would not have been called Daat. Hashem, may He be praised, has created everything according to His wisdom,
and has not created things to be ugly or shameful.... He created man and woman, and created each and every
organ and their functions, and there is nothing degrading in this.
He created man and woman, and created each and every organ and their functions, and there is nothing
degrading in this.
The proof of the matter is what is written regarding the Creation, "And they both were naked...." (Genesis, 2:25).
This was before their sin, because their minds were filled with lofty concepts, and all of their intention was for the
sake of Heaven. In their eyes, their sexual organs were like all the other organs of the body. However, after they
strayed after the pleasure of the body, and no longer intended to unite for the sake of Heaven, it is written that,
"They knew that they were naked" (Genesis, 3:7). This means that just as a person's hands are honored and
praiseworthy at the time of writing a Torah scroll in purity, or conversely, degraded when they steal or perform a
base action, so were the sexual organs unspoiled before Adam and his wife sinned. Just like with every other
organ, it was in their hands to use their sexual organs for good or for bad.

The Holy One, Blessed Be He, is true and wholesome in all of His ways, and any ugliness is completely on the
part of man. There is nothing in any of man's organs which is faulty or ugly regarding their creation, for everything
is derived from an exalted wisdom, insuring perfection, goodness, and beauty. However, man's foolish behavior
brings degradation to things that were originally created without ugliness. This must be understood thoroughly.
Behold, the hidden meaning of the "knowing" at which I am hinting is a secret, for in his inner essence, a man
encompasses wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Chochmah, Binah, Daat), for man is the secret of
Chochmah, woman is the secret of Binah, and the purity of the marital union is the secret of Daat. This is the
secret of a man and a woman according to the esoteric inner understanding of the Kabbalah. Thus the marital
union is a most exalted matter, as is fitting.
Our Sages of blessed memory have said that at the time when a man unites with his wife in holiness, the
Shechinah [Divine Presence] rests between them. If a man and a woman are heated with lust, the Shechinah
flees from them, leaving only fire in its place. This was explained in the Talmud (Sotah 17A): "Rabbi Akiva taught
that if a man and woman are meritorious, the Shechinah is with them. If they are not meritorious, a fire
consumes them."

Ish V'isha [Husband & Wife]


The explanation is that when a husband and wife conduct their marital union in holiness, the letter yud from the
man ( ) and the letter hai from the woman ( ) form (yud-hai) the Name Of the Holy One, Blessed Be He,
indicating that the Shechinah is between them. However, if the union was not performed out of holiness, but
rather to fill their lust and heat their passions, then the letter yud of the man, and the letter hai of the woman flee,
causing the Shechinah (yud hai) to flee, leaving them with ( ) and ( ) fire and fire. Our Sages of blessed
memory referred to this secret when they said that there are three partners in the creation of a child - the
husband, wife, and the Holy One, Blessed Be He (Niddah 31A). If this was some unseemly matter, how could
Hashem join His Name to it?
Rather, it must be understood that when the marital union is performed for the sake of Heaven, then there is
nothing holier or more wholesome than this. Therefore, it is written regarding the union of Tzaddikim, "Before you
were formed in the womb I knew you" (Yirmeyahu, 1:8). However, in the case of a licentious evildoer, the seminal
seed is completely impure and the Name of Hashem is not attached to it, as it says, "Their offspring are evildoers
from the womb" (Psalms, 54:4).
Contrary to this, our Sages of blessed memory taught that when the marital union is performed in the proper
manner, it resembles the Creation of heaven and earth, as it says, "The saying of the L-rd, Who stretches out the
heavens and lays the foundations of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" (Zechariah, 12:1), and
"And has founded His bundle in the earth" (Amos, 9:6). He and His court joined together to create man. This is
the secret of "Let us make man in our likeness" (Genesis, 1:26). That is to say, I am also a partner in the creation
of a man, for the mother and father contribute the bodily aspect, and Hashem Blessed Be He provides the soul
(Niddah 31A).
Now that we have informed you about the secret of the essence of the marital union, we will clarify the second
aspect, which is the opposite of the first. For when a man does not have the intention that the act be for the sake
of Heaven, then the seminal seed which is brought forth is a putrid drop to which the Name of G-d is not
attached. A union of this nature is called "corrupted its way on the earth" (Genesis, 6:12). And behold he exerts
himself for naught. And it is as if he planted an ashera tree (used for idol worship) and sacrifices calves to idol
worship, in that his seed is rotten, and his seminal drop is cast away to a patch of painful thorns.

Referring to him, it is said, "The wicked are estranged from the womb" (Psalms, 58:4). Behold, the Holy One
Blessed Be He commanded in the Torah, "And you shall be holy to me, for I the L-rd am holy" (Leviticus, 20:26).

Second - The Time Of The Marital Union


It is not fitting for a man to be with his wife like a rooster. -- The time for the marital union is
divided into three. The first depends on the proper days. The second depends on the proper
time as it relates to food. The third depends on the proper hour. -- This is the secret of what our
Rabbis, of blessed memory, have taught us, that whomever positions his bed in a north-south
direction will have male children.

Groom signs ketuba; assumes marital obligations


Behold, Hashem, praised be He, commanded in the Torah, "Her food, her clothing, and her time of marriage
relations, he shall not diminish" (Shemot, 21:10). The time of marital relations is set forth in the Talmud (Ketubot
61B), since the times vary due to the each person's differing situation. For now, we will set aside speaking about
the general populace and relate only to the proper time for Torah scholars, and this is on Sabbath night.
Regarding this it is said, "that brings forth its fruit in its time" (Psalms, 1:3), which is referring to the time Torah
scholars have their marital relations (Ketubot 62B).
Know that a man's semen is the life of his body and the light of his splendor, for this is the most refined and
choicest aspect of his blood, without which he would not be a man. Behold, the semen is a part of the body,
containing a part of every organ. For as it is known, an ear cannot give birth to an eye, nor an eye to an ear,
rather each organ gives rise to its kind; just like peas won't sprout from wheat, nor a donkey, bull, or goat from
the semen of a man. Every organ and species has its own unique nature and life forces which give birth to it. And
since the semen contains a part of every organ of the body, it is not appropriate for a man to be always with his
wife like a rooster. For this will diminish his life force, and the light in his eyes will wane, and all of his body will
weaken.
However, when marital relations are performed at the proper time, which is on

Sabbath night, and then again on the next Sabbath night... then one coupling will strengthen the next, and the
man will experience no weakness whatsoever, for his strength is constantly regenerated. This is the reason the

verse says, "that brings forth its fruit in its time," meaning from one Sabbath night, then the next, and after this it
says, "and his leaf will not wither," meaning that this will not cause him weakness. And this is followed by "and
everything he does will be successful," meaning that the marital union, when performed for the sake of Heaven,
will achieve the desired results.
The reason the proper time is on Sabbath night and not again until the next Sabbath night is because the
Sabbath is the foundation of the world, resembling the soul to the body. The Sabbath is dedicated to Hashem, as
it says, "Sabbath to the L-rd" (Shemot, 20:10), meaning that this is the proper time for Torah scholars, from one
Sabbath night to the next, in order to give birth to children who are inclined to the service of G-d, possessors of
exaltedly pure and intelligent souls.
This is the inner meaning of "And on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed" (Shemot, 31:17), referring to
the proper time of relations for Torah scholars. Understand this well, because their time [for marital union] was
not set for the days of physical exertion - the other six days of the week - but rather for the day which is
completely Sabbath rest, pertaining to the world of souls.
Having clarified this, we will now explain why we wrote that the time for marital relations has three divisions:

the proper days


the proper time as it relates to food

the proper hour

Know that the food that a person eats goes through three processes in the body, and during the fourth process, it
is transformed into semen or what is called "white blood" which gives vitality to the body.
If a man has marital relations near the time that he ate, at this time the metabolism is naturally heated and the
blood is not clear and refined. Therefore the semen that is brought forth at this time is dirty, putrid and polluted. It
is neither clean nor pure. Thus the fetus that is formed from such semen is vile and polluted at its root. Regarding
this it is said, "Behold he travails with iniquity, and has conceived with mischief, and brings forth falsehood"
(Psalms, 7:15), and also, "The wicked are estranged from the womb" (Psalms, 58:4).
A man must plan his marital relations for a time when his metabolism is calm and cooled down from the
heat of the food which he has eaten.
When the semen is mixed with unrefined elements, the offspring that results from it is bound to be vile and
polluted. Therefore, a man must plan his marital relations for a time when his metabolism is calm and cooled
down from the heat of the food which he has eaten. At this time, the blood has been refined, and the impure
elements have descended to their proper place. The foundations of the body are in the proper functioning order,
and this is at the beginning of the later half of the night.
Regarding this, our Sages of blessed memory taught, "Abba Benyamin says, All of my life, I took great pains
about two matters - that my prayer should be before my bed, and that my bed should be placed north and south"
(Berachot 5B)... "Rabbi Yitzhak says, Everyone who places his bed in the direction of north and south will have
male children, as it says, And with Your treasure (lit. Your north) You fill their belly; they will have a bounty of
sons (Psalms, 17:14). Rabbi Nachman ben Yitzhak says, His wife will also not miscarry, as it says here, And with
Your treasure (lit. Your north), You fill their belly; and elsewhere it is written, And when her days to be delivered
were fulfilled, behold there were twins in her belly (Genesis, 25:24).
I must clarify this matter, for surely there is no one so foolish who believes that just by placing a bed in a northsouth direction that a person will merit male children, or that his wife would not have a miscarriage. Even more
startling, these things were said by the pillars of the world, wise and understanding men.

Avoid the extremes


The explanation is that they spoke in hints, as was their fashion. Now we will clarify this matter. is known that the
severest cold is from the north, and the severest heat is found in the south. The wise men of truth knew that in
guiding a person toward the proper path, it is not appropriate or beneficial to direct him toward the extremes.
Rather, that the attributes that lay on the middle path are the favorable ones. King Shlomo hinted at this when he
advised, "Do not be overly righteous.... nor overly wicked or foolish" (Kohelet, 7:16).
The Sages disguised their inner meaning by using the opposites of north and south for the extremities of hot and
cold. The understanding is that a man should engage in marital relations when his bodily metabolism is neither
too hot, nor too cold, but rather between the two. This way, he will feel rested, and he will not eject his semen in a
rush. He will be able to have relations in an unhurried manner, and his wife will reach her satisfaction first.
In this manner, the wife's seed will be prepared for the husband, like material prepared for building. Then when
the semen of the husband comes, it is like the builder who comes and shapes the prepared material into the form
of the building.... From this we can understand the secret why someone who places his bed in a north-south
direction will merit to have male children. The time when the body is neither too hot, nor too cold, is in the middle
of the night when the heat of the body generated from the evening meal has had a chance to be digested and to
cool down. At this time, the body's metabolism is calm and temperate. The intention then in saying between north
and south was that the body should be between cold and hot.
For it is known that a person who is born from a drop of cold semen will always be slow-witted and foolish. And
someone who is born from a drop of hot semen will be quick-tempered and prone to anger. However, someone
who is born from a drop of semen of moderate temperature, between hot and cold, will always be a wise person,
calm in reasoning, thoughtful, noble in spirit, and liked by his fellow man. Regarding this, it says, "If though will
give to Thy handmaid a man child" (Shmuel 1, 1:11). And our Sages of blessed memory have explained this as,
"Neither too tall, nor too short, neither too thin, nor too fat, neither too pale, nor too red, neither too clever, nor
stupid." (Berachot 31B). This comes to teach that all of a man's attributes will be balanced when his nature is
temperate between hot and cold, and this is the secret of between north and south, and the secret of having
male children, as we have explained.

From the verse, "The L-rd is good to all, and merciful in all of His works," we know that the ritual
slaughtering of animals for human consumption is a compassionate act, for the animal's
betterment. -- It is fitting that a man eat proper and nutritious foods, things that will cleanse,
refine, and purify the blood. -- If a man distances himself from damaging foods, he will have
upright, holy, and pure children.
Know that a man's physical state depends on the food he eats. And behold, Hashem, whose every deed is just,
commanded that animals be ritually slaughtered for human consumption. Why should this be when we could live
well on fruits and vegetables? Why should He readily forfeit the lives of animals and cause them great suffering?
It is a fundamental principle of life that Hashem, may He be blessed, is good to every creature and is merciful to
everything that He created, as it says, "The L-rd is good to all, and merciful in all of His works," (Psalms, 145:9).
It follows from this that man's ritually slaughtering and eating of animals is for their betterment. I will explain.
It is known that the food that a person eats goes to his stomach, and then descends to his upper colon. From
there, the liver extracts the healthy and choice portions, the nutritious, and the clean and refined, and the
remainder is separated to the lower colon and excreted by the bowels. The portion that the liver extracts is
returned and reprocessed, and the blood is cleaned and is circulated back to the heart.

The heart then sends the blood to all of the organs. In the organs, the blood undergoes another processing,
specific to each organ, so that elements of flesh are incorporated into flesh, fats into fat, sinews into sinews,
elements of bone into bones, and thus the body is nourished. In this manner, an animal that has been ritually
slaughtered and eaten by man benefits by his being slaughtered, for it has been raised up from the physical
status of an animal to the physical status of a man. In this same manner, minerals, plants, and animals are all
elevated, stage after stage, to higher levels of existence, as it says, "The L-rd is good to all, and merciful in all of
His works."
Given this introduction, we understand that the blood brings nourishment to the body and is incorporated into it,
and that the blood is itself influenced by the food that the body consumes. If the food is heavy and unrefined, the
blood will be heavy and unrefined. And if the food is clean and pure, then the blood will be the same.
Therefore, the L-rd, blessed be He, in His holy Torah, distanced us from certain

forbidden foods by prohibiting us from consuming them. Some of them dull the heart like chelev [certain fats] and
blood. Some cause in a person the characteristic of brazenness, like wild animals and birds of prey. Some shut
the doors of understanding and wisdom, like the rabbit, hare, pig, and their like. Some cause severe and
damaging illnesses, like creatures that creep on land and in the sea.
In summary, regarding all of these, it says, "You shall not make yourselves abominable" (Leviticus, 11:43).
Behold, it is known that all of these detestable and disgusting things give rise to bad blood that is destined to
bring about devastating consequences.
And behold, when the Sages said that a man must sanctify himself at the time of marital relations (Shavuot 18B),
know that eating the proper food is a part of this sanctification.
When the Sages said a man must sanctify himself in his marital relations, eating the proper food is a part
of this sanctification.
For it is fitting that a man eat the right and wholesome foods situated between cold and hot, and also foods which
produce blood that is clean and pure. For this same blood will be transformed into the drop of semen that will be
the foundation of the child who will be born from the marital union. For if the food will be of a forbidden species,
or heavy, or unwholesome, then the semen will also be heavy, putrid, and foul. It turns out that food influences a
person's being and whether a child will be wise or foolish, righteous or wicked.
And now I will put in your hand a great key. Know that since the matter is as we have explained, this is the
reason that Hashem placed the Torah portion, "If a woman has conceived seed and given birth to a male child"
(Leviticus, 12:1), next to the Torah portion dealing with forbidden foods (which immediately precedes it).
Following it comes the portion dealing with leprosy.
There are marvelous secrets why these three sections are positioned one next to the other. The section "If a
woman has conceived seed and given birth to a male child" is placed in the middle to teach that if a man
separates himself from evil foods, he will have pure, holy, and wholesome sons. However, if he doesn't keep
away from eating forbidden foods, then his children will suffer diseases due to the evil nature of the impregnating
seed which was derived from these abominable foods.
Therefore, a man is to sanctify himself by eating wholesome foods in the meal preceding marital relations, so that
the seminal seed will be refined and pure, and of average temperature between north and south, as we have

learned. For we have established that the consistency of blood depends on the food which has gone into
producing it, and that the semen will be like the blood, and that the offspring will be like the semen. This follows
from what we have said that a horse will not give birth to an eagle, and peas will not sprout from wheat. Similarly
it is said that foul and polluted semen will give rise to offspring whose blood is vile and loathsome, as it says,
"Whose offspring is evil from the womb" (Psalms, 58:4).
Behold, in this section, we have alerted you to the proper manner of nutrition. Now we must add that even from
the proper food, a person should not overindulge himself and fill up his belly.

Buffet dining can be hazardous


Rather, one should eat a medium-size quantity that can be easily digested and readily transformed into clean and
pure blood. For if food is piled up in the stomach, even though it be wholesome, the over abundance will prevent
proper digestion, causing its processing in the body to be even more polluting than if the person had eaten a
small amount of the coarse and evil things. Therefore, it is just as important to be careful over the amount of food
as over the type of food. This is an important principle that must be guarded in regards to food as it influences
the marital union.

Fourth - The Required Intention


There is a great secret in what our Sages have taught us that the thought of a sin is worse than
the sin itself. - Every man must cleanse his thoughts and imagination, and refine them at the
time of the marital union, and not think about lascivious and sinful matters, G-d forbid. Rather,
his thoughts should concentrate on holy matters, and on holy tzaddikim, men of knowledge and
wisdom.
You must know a great secret regarding what our Rabbis of blessed memory said that the thought of a sin is
worse than the sin itself (Yoma 29A). Behold, I will illuminate your eyes with matters that are among the
mysteries of the world, matters which are hidden away in several inner chambers.
Know that the blessed L-rd, the all-knowledgeable One, designed His works in perfect wisdom, and gave to all
things in nature the ability to function in a fixed order, without alteration, in a miraculous way. And behold, He
gave man the power of imagination, and the ability to create the thing he imagines. This is something known to
the students of nature as well.
And behold, when a man couples with his wife, if his imagination and thoughts are focused on the faculties of
wisdom and understanding, and on proper and wholesome character traits, then the imaginative faculty of his
thoughts has the power to shape the form of the drop of semen according to what he thinks at the time of the
union. This is a clear and certain fact. It is the secret of the "rods of green poplar..." and of, "And the flocks
conceived before the rods" (Genesis, 30:37-39).
In this same light, this is what our Rabbis of blessed memory meant in describing how "Rabbi Yochanan was
accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the ritual bathing house. He said: When the daughters of Israel come up
from the bathing, they look at me and they have sons as comely as I am" (Berachot 20A). Just reflect on this
extraordinary scene, how when a woman coming out of the ritual bath would catch sight of this saintly figure and
impress his beauty in her thoughts. Then, when she coupled with her husband, the fetus would receive its form
from the impression made by the picture in her mind of the tzaddik. Thus we learn that the imaginative faculty
has great power, and that fantasy and thought bear a direct influence on the fetus, as we have explained.

Behold, the imagination and one's thoughts cause one's offspring to be saintly or wicked, like the influence of
foods. Therefore, every man must cleanse his thoughts and imagination, and refine them at the time of the
marital union, and not think about lascivious and sinful matters, G-d forbid. Rather, his thoughts should
concentrate on holy matters, and on holy tzaddikim, men of knowledge and wisdom. For these thoughts will
impress themselves on the seminal seed and shape its form during the marital union.
Also the wife should have joyous thoughts, concentrating on things that bring joy to the heart, so that she too will
be in unison with her husband in sharing clean and pure intentions. In this way, they will be united in the mitzvah,
bonded in their minds, the Shechinah will rest between them, and they will give birth to a son, formed in the
image of their thoughts.
Do not think that this is an incredulous, wondrous matter, for it is a simple natural phenomenon known to the
scholars who have studied these things - that the characteristics of a child, whether good or bad, are directly
influenced by the thoughts of the mother and father at the time of their marital union.
A proof has already been given (Midrash Tanchumin, Naso, 7), in the account of the queen who gave birth to a
black child, even though she and the king were both white and exceedingly comely. The king thought to kill her
for being an adulterer until a wise man suggested that perhaps she thought about a black man at the time of their
marital relations. An examination revealed that black designs had been painted on the panels of their bedroom.
The queen confessed that she would gaze up and muse over them during their relations. This is similar to the
incident of the rods (that our forefather Yaakov placed in front of the coupling sheep).
In summary, if a man thinks upon wholesome and pure matters at the time of the marital union, these pure
thoughts will be stamped on the seminal seed, and subsequently on the son born from such a union, insuring
that he will grow up to be righteous in his ways. This is the inner meaning of the verse, "Before I formed you in
the womb..." (Yirmeyahu, 1:5). This is so because when the good thought precedes the shaping of the embryo,
then the Shechinah becomes a partner with the pure intention. For our Sages of blessed memory have said that
the Holy One, Blessed Be He, attaches good intentions to the deed (Kiddushin 40A).
If, however, a man thinks about a vile and sinful matter, then the resulting fetus will have an evil and ugly
foundation, and is destined to be despicable and wicked in his ways, as it says, "Whose offspring is wicked from
the womb" (Psalms, 58:4).
And I am obligated to enlighten you on a great principle of the Torah, and of our Rabbis of blessed memory who
said, "G-d makes the lonely ones dwell in a house" (Psalms, 68:7), and in their saying, "Everyone who marries a
woman for her beauty, a month doesn't go by without a sword consuming him" (Kiddushin 70A, varying version),
as it says, "They have dealt traitorously with the L-rd, for they have begotten foreign children" (Hoshea, 5:7).
The great secret of this matter is that should a man marry a woman for her beauty, then his coupling with her will
not be for the sake of Heaven, for he will think about her physical beauty and form, and not focus his thoughts on
pure and lofty matters. Therefore the child that is born from these physical thoughts will be a strange and foreign
child. This is the meaning of, "They have dealt traitorously with the L-rd, for they have begotten foreign children."
The Name of G-d will not be attached to them. They are traitors of Hashem, and the Shechinah flees from them.

Fifth - The Quality Of The Union


It is known that every saintly and modest man speaks in a gentle, patient, and pleasant voice,
avoiding grandiose proclamations. And when he walks, he walks humbly with a lowered head.
He is similarly modest in all of his ways. The wicked man is the exact opposite. Behold, it is
important to note that a man's hands and his mouth, although they are considered clean
organs, they can do ugly things. How much more damage can be done with an organ and a
deed that can be so easily made ugly if used in an improper fashion. How much more thoughtful
a man must be in these matters.
Therefore, during the time that a man is having relations with his wife, he should carefully guard against foolish
levity and speech.

He should say things that awaken her desire and love, and things that draw her to the fear of Heaven, to
modesty, and saintly behavior.
Before beginning, he should speak in a manner that warms her heart and settles her mind, saying things that
gladden her, so that her thoughts will be bonded to his, and her intentions parallel to his. Thus he should say
some things that awaken her desire and love, and some things that draw her to the fear of Heaven, to modesty,
and saintly behavior.
He might tell her about saintly and modest women, who gave birth to sons known for their piety, Torah
scholarship, and fear of G-d, like the saintly Kimchit who merited seven sons who all served as High Priest. The
Sages asked her how she merited this great honor, and she answered that even the beams of her house never
saw her hair uncovered. Her saintly and distinguished children were the reward for her modesty and her upright
deeds (Yoma 47A).
Marital relations should be in the middle of the night, or afterward, as it is taught:

"In the third watch of the night, babies nurse at their mother's breast, and a wife converses' with her husband"
(Berachot 3A). To sum up, when you are certain that you are in the proper frame of mind to have relations, make
certain that your wife is in the proper mental bond with you. And when you are coupled, don't rush to arouse her
desire, in order that she will have the time to settle her mind on the proper intentions.
In all of the things we have told you, you should understand certain matters that we have not stated openly. You
should join everything together, and use your own wisdom to understand the proper way to conduct the marital
union, behaving even more modestly than all of the modest qualities that characterize your other doings, such as
eating, drinking, and speaking with people. This is because your modesty and your thoughts during the marital
act are what determine the quality and spiritual make-up of your drops of semen.
This is the secret of the verse, "These are the generations Yitzhak, son of Avraham...." (Genesis, 25:19). After
the Holy One, Blessed Be He, told him that his wife Sarah would give birth to a son, at the time of their union,
Avraham concentrated his mind, and all of his noble qualities, on a supremely transcendental intention. Attaching
his thoughts to the most exalted spiritual worlds, he infused his mind with the intention of having a son who would
be worthy of G-d's promise. This is the secret of, "Avraham gave birth to Yitzhak," meaning he concentrated on
having a son who would be a complete tzaddik like himself....
This is how all other saintly men conduct themselves, for in performing the marital act for the sake of the mitzvah,
attaching their thoughts at the time of the union to the most exalted spiritual worlds, they bring forth children
possessing the kernels of holiness, purity, and saintly behavior.
And this is why it is written, "These are the generations of Peretz: Peretz gave birth to Chetzron, and Chetzron
begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadav, and Amminadov begot Nachshon, and Nachshon begot Salma, and
Salma begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Oved, and Oved begot Yishay, and Yishay begot David (Ruth, 4:18). For, in
being a complete tzaddik, Peretz had the intention of giving birth to a tzaddik like himself. This is the secret of
"Peretz gave birth to Chatzron," continuing on until "Yishay begot David," a tzaddik giving birth to a tzaddik.
This comes to tell us that it was not accidental that G-d chose his servant, David, to rule as king over Israel, for
he was the pinnacle of a chain of ten generations of complete tzaddikim, one more exalted than the next. This
resembles the ten sefirot in the secret of their elevation, one upon the other, joined in the secret of ten, the

Hebrew letter yud, which encompasses all the numbers preceding it, for from Peretz to David, there are ten
ascending stages of tzaddik ben tzaddik.
And now, meditate on the secret of these matters. If you practice them like I have set forth, I promise you that
you will give birth to a righteous tzaddik who will sanctify the Name of G-d.
Click here for Page One of this article
Read more articles by Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi

A Cry From The Heart


(From the book, "The Crown of Modesty" by the scholarly Kabbalist, Rabbi Daniel Frish, zatzal, author of the
commentary on the Zohar, "Matok M'Dvash").
It is time to seriously examine the terrible breach brought about by clothes that hug the body in a provocative
manner.
When we contemplate to the depth of the matter, we must know that every
time a woman goes out wearing a tight-fitting garment - even without intending to cause damage, but merely to
appear "more attractive" - behold, she returns home burdened with thousands of serious transgressions, may the
Almighty have mercy!
Each time a woman goes out to the street in immodest attire, she transgresses six prohibitions of the Torah and
five positive commandments.
With each man that she causes to gaze at her with a lustful glance, she transgresses the prohibition, "Do
not put a stumbling block before a blind man"
With each man that she causes to gaze at her with a lustful glance, she transgresses the prohibition, "Do not put
a stumbling block before a blind man"(Vayikra, 19:14). Furthermore, she brings upon herself the same
punishment that he will face in the future, as the holy Rashi explains on the verse, "He will bear her iniquity," that
whomever causes his fellow to sin, is punished in his place (Bamidbar, 30:19).
In his book, "Letter of T'shuva," Rabbeinu Yona also makes this point, stating that a man who gazes at a woman
lustfully, whether at her face or her hand, brings the punishment of hell upon himself. And she receives the
punishment that she caused to each and every man who gazed at her, because she caused them to stumble by
her not behaving in a modest fashion.
It is further stated in the book, "Shomer Emunim," in the name of the Sages of old, that when a woman goes
about on the street dressed in an immodest fashion, she is accompanied by tens of thousands of evil forces and
husks of impurity (klipot,) may the Almighty save us. These impure forces enter into the hearts of the men on the
street, and tempt and bewilder these men into gazing at her and succumbing to lustful thoughts.

The Ole Domino Effect

Therefore, a woman must realize that when she goes out in immodest attire, she "sins and brings the multitude
to sin." In addition, she also causes other woman and young girls who learn from her example to sin, in that they
are influenced to dress in the same fashion. Her immodesty causes others to treat the commandment of modesty
in a flippant manner, bringing others to trespass. This is especially true if she is a woman of standing, or a
mother, or grandmother, who set an example for daughters and granddaughters - how much greater the
responsibility.
Concerning this, our Sages have said: "Yeravam sinned and caused the public to sin; thus the sin of the
multitudes is attributed to him" (Avot, 5:21). Furthermore, they taught: "Anyone who causes a multitude to sin is
not afforded repentance" (Ibid).
Therefore, the immodest woman plays a hand in the spiritual decline of every woman she influences, not only in
regards to the woman who learned from her, but also from the woman who learns from the second woman, and
there on down the chain. As long as this matter is not corrected, and the plague of immodesty not stemmed, the
woman who influences others has a part in the whole.
She also causes the standard of modesty to crumble, and causes a weakening of Judaism, for she adds to the
spreading of this errant fashion. When one commandment is taken lightly, the entire Torah is weakened, not only
in her eyes, but in the eyes of her generation and the generations that follow. All of this comes in the wake of the
woman who leaves her home wearing immodest clothes. How staggering are the consequences of this matter!
("The Crown of Modesty," Pg. 259)
Behold, the Torah prohibitions that concern forbidden thoughts (like worshipping idols, heresy, and sexual
fantasies) are considered transgressions, even if they are not acted upon at all. The thought itself is already a
transgression.
(This article is excerpted from the book, "Taharat HaKodesh," by the Gaon and Kabbalist, Rabbi Aharon Ratta,
z'tzal)
For example, if a person thinks that the doctrines of a false religion are true, or if he fantasizes about worshipping
idols, he needn't actually go and worship them. Just by the thought alone, a large impure spiritual husk (klipah) is
created in the upper worlds, larger than the husk created by the actual deed.
Likewise, the thought of a sexual violation does not have to be followed by the act to

be a wrongdoing. The thought itself creates a destroying spiritual angel with all of the 248 organs, and this angel
will not be quiet or rest until it takes vengeance on the person, G-d forbid, now or at some later time, or both.
In his book, "Ohr Yehuda," the holy Magid from Kotzitz explains what is written in the "Tikunei Zohar" on this
matter (Folio 8) that someone who willfully fantasizes about a woman is considered to have willfully committed
the forbidden act. Moreover, the evil spiritual forces which his fantasizing create invade his thoughts during times
of Torah study, prayer, and when he performs a commandment, in order to distract him with foreign thoughts,
foolish ideas, and vanities.
It is precisely sinful thoughts that prevent a person from cleaving to G-d.

Sinful thoughts numb the brain and the heart, and transform his faculty of reason (daat) to that of an
arrogant fool's.
Sinful thoughts numb the brain and the heart, and transform his faculty of reason (daat) to that of an arrogant
fool's.
Even more than this, all transgressions find rectification through the forging fires of Gehinom, except for
transgressions of a spiritual nature like thoughts which have no tikun (rectification) in Gehinom, since they are
related to a more spiritual realm than Gehinom which belongs to the world of doing. Therefore, even if a man has
already been rectified and refined by the great and frightening smeltery of Gehinom, and awaits his entry into
Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), his forbidden thoughts converge on him and don't allow him to enter.
Our blessed Sages hinted at this when they said, "Anyone who willfully thinks forbidden sexual thoughts is not
allowed to enter the courtyard of the Holy One Blessed Be He" (Niddah 13B) He will need another great and
terrible tikun in his next very painful reincarnation...if he doesn't make penitence and rectify his thoughts.
Therefore, someone who blemishes the Brit, G-d forbid, his repentance is difficult, because it requires a great
amount of devoted work to uproot all of the impurities and blemishes that he caused. Nonetheless, the Holy One
Blessed Be He is merciful and forgiving, and if a Jew tries his hardest, then certainly in His great mercy, He will
accept the penitence of those who return.
Just see, my brother, the words of the holy Zohar, that a loud and strident proclamation is made every day in Gan
Eden, saying "Who is this who has clung to the Tree of Life, the source of the Jewish People, called Tiferet
Yisrael (Zohar, Parshat Miketz, 193A). For everyone who is found there draws upon himself life and healing to
his soul and body. And who is this? Those that guarded themselves from forbidden thoughts and fantasies, for
forbidden thoughts pollute Israel's source, because these thoughts rise up to the celestial root of his soul which is
attached to the Tree of Life, and pollute its very roots, thus causing his soul to be polluted below....
When a holy Jew lives a life of Torah, prayer, and good deeds, he adds light to his soul. For when a man is born,
he is given but a little of his soul's potential. Then at his bar mitzvah, he is granted enhanced holiness. Afterward,
as he increases Torah and good deeds, additional illumination and portions of his soul are granted to him from
the root of his soul in heaven.
However, if he has a sinful thought, G-d forbid, he pollutes his very source, and all of the additional holiness that
he accumulated is lost. Therefore our rabbis, may the remembrance of them be for a blessing, stated that the
thoughts of a transgression are worse than the actual transgression itself (Yoma 29A), for the damage is greater,
rooting itself in the highest reaches of the heavens, G-d forbid.
Therefore, you should know, my brother, the moment that you think of a sinful matter, you uproot yourself from
the root of Israel's holiness, and create a great and terrifying evil force. At that very moment, the root of your soul
is set burning in Gehinom, as the Talmud teaches, regarding Rav and Rav Yehuda, that a man should not walk
behind a woman, but rather hurry his steps to walk before her, in order to save himself from falling into Gehinom
(Kiddushin 81A).
And this caution was attributed to Rav, the holiest of Sages, of whom it was said that he never uttered a needless
conversation in his life, and never gazed beyond four cubits. Other commentators said that Rav was Rabbi Abba
of the Zohar, the most important student of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Yet, he still didn't trust himself not to have
a sinful thought when walking behind a woman, in the fear that his thoughts about her would cause him to fall
into Gehinom, G-d forbid.
Therefore my dearly loved brother, have pity on your soul that you shouldn't cause it to descend to the depths
because of an evil thought, G-d forbid, nor bring upon yourself cruel and unnatural reincarnations, may Heaven
have mercy.
(From the chapter, "Taharat HaMachshavah," 4-8)

Excerpted from the classic treatise, Mesillat Yesharim written by the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Haim Lutzato.
(Translation by Shraga Silverstein, Feldheim Publishers )

The idea behind the trait of Cleanliness is that a person be completely clean of bad traits and transgressions, not
only those which are recognized as such, but also those which are rationalized, which, when we look into them
honestly, we find to be sanctioned only because of the heart's still being partially afflicted by lust and not entirely
free of it, so as to incline us towards a relaxation of standards.
The man who is entirely free of this affliction, and clean of any trace of evil which lust leaves behind it, will come
to possess perfectly clean vision and pure discrimination. He will not be swayed in any direction by desire, but
will recognize as evil, and withdraw from every sin that he committed, though it were the slightest of the slight....

King David Sculpture, Frank Meisler


King David rejoiced in the possession of this trait and said, "I will wash my hands in Cleanliness, and I will go
around your altar, O G-d" (Tehillim, 26:6). In truth, it befits only him who is completely clean of any stirring of sin
to behold G-d, the King; for lacking such Cleanliness one should be ashamed and disgraced before Him. As Ezra
the Scribe said, "My G-d, I am ashamed and disgraced to lift, my G-d, my face to You" (Ezra, 9:6).
Unquestionably, the attainment of perfection in this trait entails great labor, for the recognized and well-known
sins are easy to avoid since their evil is apparent, but the analysis which Cleanliness requires is of a most difficult
kind, because the sin involved, as I have mentioned, is hidden by rationalization. As our Sages of blessed
memory have said, "The sins which a man treads underfoot surround him at the time of judgment" (Avodah
Zarah 18a). And it was in this connection that they said, "The majority succumbs to the sin of theft, a minority to
that of illicit relations, and all of them to the dust of slander" (Baba Batra 165a)....
This trait is certainly difficult to acquire, for a man's nature is weak. His heart is easily won over, and he permits
certain things to himself by utilizing the opportunities for self-deception that they present. One who has attained
to the trait of Cleanliness has unquestionably reached a very high level of achievement, for he has stood up in
the face of a raging battle and emerged victorious....
We shall now consider the sin of illicit relations. One who desires to be completely clean of this sin requires no
little effort, for its prohibition takes in not only the act itself, but anything that approaches it, as Scripture clearly
states: "Do not come near to uncover nakedness" (Vayikra, 18:6). And our Sages of blessed memory have said,
"The Holy One Blessed Be He said: Do not say, Since I may not have relations with this woman, I will hold her
and be free of sin, I will hug her and be free of sin, I will kiss her and be free of sin.' The Holy One Blessed Be
He said, Just as when a Nazarite takes a vow not to drink wine, he is forbidden to eat grapes or raisins, or to
drink grape juice, or to partake of anything that comes from the grapevine, so it is forbidden to touch any woman

but your own wife; and anyone who does touch a woman other than his wife brings death to himself'" (Shemot
Rabbah, 31:6).
See how wonderful these words are! The prohibition in the case of illicit relations is likened to the case of a
Nazarite, where, even though the essence of the prohibition involves only the drinking of wine, the Torah forbids
him anything which has any connection to wine.
By applying this principle to the area of illicit relations, the Sages prohibited anything partaking of the nature of
fornication, or anything approaching it, regardless of the particular avenue of approach, whether that of deed,
sight, speech, hearing, or even thought.
Deed: Namely touching or embracing and the like. This has already been mentioned and there is no need to
expand upon it.
Sight: Our Sages of blessed memory have said: "One who counts coins from his hand to hers in order to gaze at
her will not be cleansed from Gehinom"(Berachot 61a). And, "Why did the Jews of that generation require
atonement? Because they fed their eyes on impurity" (Shabbat 64a). Also, they said, "It is written in the Torah,
And keep yourself from every evil thing,' meaning a man should not gaze upon a beautiful woman, even if she is
single, nor upon a married woman, even if she is ugly" (Avodah Zarah 20a).
Speech: It is explicitly stated: "One who converses at length with a woman draws evil upon himself" (Avot, 1:5).
Hearing: "Listening to a woman's singing is considered like sexual licentiousness" (Berachot 24a).
Also talking about and hearing licentious matters is considered "fornication of the mouth and ear." On the verse,
"Let there not be seen with you a thing of nakedness," our Sages said this means nakedness of speech and the
uttering of obscenities (Yerushami Terumot 1:4). Also, "Everyone knows why a bride goes to the wedding canopy,
but anyone who speaks obscenely concerning it, even a decree of seventy good years is converted to evil
(Shabbat 33a). And, "Even a casual conversation between a man and his wife is held up to him at the time of
Judgment (Chagigah 5b).
Thought: Our Sages of blessed memory have already said that the verse, "Keep yourself from every evil thing,"
means that a man should not think lewd thoughts in the daytime and come to impurity at night (Avodah Zara
20b). Also, "The thoughts behind the sin are worse than the sin itself" (Yoma 29a).
We see then that all of one's faculties must be clean of licentiousness and anything relating to it.

Regarding Separation
The rationale of Separation is epitomized in the words of our Sages of blessed memory, "Sanctify yourself
through what is permitted to you" (Yevamot 20a).
This is the meaning of the word separation - separating and withdrawing from something that is permitted, as if it
were forbidden. The intent is to keep oneself from that which is forbidden. The understanding is that a person
should withdraw and separate himself from anything which might give rise to something that could bring about
evil, even though it does not bring it about at the moment, and even though it is not evil in itself.
If you look into the matter, you will perceive three different levels - 1) the forbidden things themselves, 2) their
fences (the edicts and safeguards that our Sages of blessed memory made binding on all Israel), and 3) the
withdrawals that those committed to Separation must create for themselves by circumscribing themselves and
building fences for themselves; that is by abstaining from things which were permitted, which were nor proscribed
to all Israel, and separating themselves from them so as to be far removed from evil.

Don't we have enough prohibitions?


One might ask, "What basis is there for multiplying prohibitions? Have our Sages of blessed memory not said,
Are the Torah's prohibitions not enough for you that you come to create new prohibitions for yourself?' Have our
Sages of blessed memory in their great wisdom not seen what was necessary to forbid as a safeguard; and they
have not already forbidden it? And does it not follow then that anything they did not prohibit, they felt should be
permitted? Then why should we now initiate edicts which they felt no need for?
What is more, there is no limit to this. One would have to live in desolation and affliction, deriving no enjoyment
whatsoever from the world, whereas our Sages of blessed memory have said that a man will have to give an
accounting to the Almighty for everything that his eyes beheld and he did not wish to eat, though permitted and
able to do so (Yerushalmi, Kiddushin, 4:12). They quoted Scripture in their support, Anything my eyes asked, I
did not keep from them'" (Kohelet, 2:10).
The answer to all of these arguments is that Separation is certainly necessary and essential. Our Sages of
blessed memory exhorted us concerning it, explaining the Torah command "Be holy!" to mean, "Separate
yourselves!" (Sifre, Vayikra, 19:2)....
For there is no worldly pleasure upon whose heels some sin does not follow. For example, kosher food and drink
are permitted, but over imbibing causes one to put off the yoke of Heaven, and the drinking of wine brings in its
wake licentiousness and other evils....
There is no question as to the permissibility of cohabitation with one's wife, but still ablutions were instituted for
those who had had seminal emissions, so that scholars should not be constantly with their wives, like roosters.
Even though the act in itself is permissible, it plants in a person a lust for it which might draw him on to what is
forbidden; as our Sages of blessed memory have said, "There is a small organ in a man which, when it is
satiated, hungers, and which, when it is made to hunger, is sated" (Sukkah 52b).
And they said about Rabbi Eleazar that even in the proper hour and the correct occasion, he would expose a
hand-breath and conceal two hand-breaths, and imagine that a demon were compelling him, in order to cancel
out the feeling of pleasure....
The best way for a man to acquire Separation is to regard the inferior quality of the pleasures of the world, both
in point of their own insignificance and in point of the great evils to which they are prone to give rise. For what
inclines one's nature to these pleasures to the extent that he requires so much strength and scheming to
separate himself from them is the gullibility of his eyes, their tendency to be deceived by good and pleasing
superficial appearances.
It was this deception that led to the commission of the first sin. As Scriptures testifies: "And the woman saw that
the tree was good to eat from and that it was desirable to the eyes...and she took of its fruit and ate" (Bereshit,
3:6). But when it becomes clear to a person that this "good" is deceptive and illusive, that it has no healthy
permanence, and that it contains real evil, or is prone to give rise to it, he will certainly come to despise and
decline it. All that a man need teach his intelligence then is to recognize the weakness and falseness of these
pleasures so that he will naturally come to despise them and find it not at all difficult to spurn them....

What one must be heedful of in the process of acquiring Separation is not to desire

to leap to its farthest reaches in one moment, for he will certainly not be able to make such great strides. He
should rather proceed in Separation, little by little, acquiring a little today and adding a little more tomorrow, until
he is so habituated to it that it is second nature with him.

First, Rectify the Brit!


From the writings of Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, AKA the Abir
Yaacov
Editors Introduction:
The Torah portion, Bechukotai, is known as the portion of rebuke. he portion begins with G-ds promise that if the
Jews observe the commandments of the Torah, prosperity, blessing, and peace will befall them. However, if they
turn away from the Torah, G-d warns them that terrible curses and sufferings will be their fate - they will be
pursued and ravaged by their enemies and forcibly expelled from the land into exile where they will be
relentlessly persecuted and killed:

But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all of these commandments, and if you shall despise My
statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that you will not do all of the commandments, but that you break
My Brit, I also will do this to you: I will appoint over you terror, consumption, and fever, that shall consume thy
eyes, and cause sorrow of heart, and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set
my face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you, and you
shall flee when none pursue you. And if you will not yet for all this hearken to me, then I will punish you seven
times more for your sins.... And if you will not be admonished by Me as a result of these things, but you will walk
in contrariness (keri) to me, then I will also walk contrary to you, and will punish you yet seven times for your
sins. And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge My Brit; and when you are gathered together within your
cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy... (Vayikra,
Behukotai, 26:2-25).

Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera


The saintly Tzaddik and holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, ztzal, grandfather of the holy Baba Sali,
ztzal,
explains this Torah portion as referring to transgression of the Brit:
(From the book, Abir Yaacov, section, Pitochei Chotam; Bechukotai)

It is possible to infer that this is referring to the holy Brit, for as is known, someone who blemishes the holy Brit,
even though he observes all of the Torah, his doings are for naught. As the holy Zohar writes, a person who does
not have fear of sin in matters of the Brit, has no fear of G-d in anything he does. This is because his body which
performs the commandments is blemished. Thus, everything which he does is blemished.
According to the holy Zohar, the verse: Be afraid of the sword, for wrath over sins brings the sword (Iyov, 19:20)
refers to this. Both the Rishonim (early rabbincal authorities) and Achronim (later rabbinical authorities) have
stated that the majority of mans sufferings, whether through pestilence, the sword, or famine result from
transgressions to the Brit. And whatever mitzvot and good deeds that a person does, as long as his Brit is
blemished, it all goes to the Sitra Achra (Other Side), may G-d have mercy.
Whoever blemishes the holy Brit is considered to have been false to the seal of the King of Kings, the Holy One
Blessed Be He. This is the meaning of We have not been false to your Brit.
Therefore, a person who comes to serve G-d should first rectify any blemish to the Brit in the proper fashion,
and afterward begin to serve G-d.
For the matter of transgressing the Brit, and all of the sufferings that stem from this, is referred in this rebuke (in
Bechukotai). So that when the verse says: But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all of these
commandments, and if you shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that you will not do
all of the commandments, but that you break My Brit..., it does not mean to say that they do not do any of the
precepts, or that they do not occupy themselves with Torah; but rather, they do occupy themselves with Torah,
and they do perform the commandments, but the main thing is missing, for the Brit, which is the principle matter,
is blemished and has not be rectified. Since the Brit is blemished and has not been rectified, everything is
canceled and considered naught.
This is why the verse concludes: but that you break My Brit. That is to say: Everything that I said about your
despising My statutes, and your abhorring My judgments, and your rejecting My commandments, is not to be
taken literally. Rather you broke My Brit and you blemished it, and you did not rectify it. For this reason, even if
you hearken to My voice in performing all of the other commandments of the Torah, behold I proclaim to you that
you have not hearkened to Me. Even if you will do all of the mitzvot, I will consider that you have not done them.
Even if you will observe My statutes with love, I proclaim that you have despised My statutes. And even if you will
perform My judgments with great joy, I proclaim that you have abhorred them. All of this is because you break
My Brit. For you violated My Brit and have not rectified it. For this reason, everything you do is considered
canceled and as naught. And all of the Torah and mitzvot that you do, it all goes to the Sitra Achra. And because
you betrayed My Brit, I will bring upon all the sufferings in the world....
Therefore, whoever desires to do tshuva (repentence), let him first rectify blemishes to the Brit, and after that
the things he does to please G-d will succeed.
Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzeras commentary on the Torah portion Behukotai explains that it is Israels betrayal of
the Brit that brings horrible tragedies and exile upon them. Nonetheless, it is also the merit of the Brit that saves

them after the long generations of suffering in exile, as G-d goes on to promise:
Then will I remember My Brit with Yaacov, and also My Brit with Yitzhak, and also My Brit with Avraham will I
remember; and I will remember the land... And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will
not cast them away, nor will I abhor them to destroy them utterly, and to break my Brit with them; for I am the L-rd
their G-d. But I will for their sakes remember the Brit of their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in
the sight of the nations, that I might be their G-d; I am the L-rd (Vayikra, Behukotai, 26:42-45.)

The Battle Against Sexual Fantasies


Excerpted from the Tanya, Chapter 27, by the first Admore of Chabad, the Baal HaTanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman
of Liadi.
However, should the sadness (in serving G-d) not stem from worry over sins, but from evil thoughts and desires
that enter his mind if they appear not during Divine Service but while he is occupied with his own affairs and
with everyday matters, he should, on the contrary, be happy in his portion that, though they enter his mind, he
averts his mind from them in order to fulfil the obligation, That you seek not after your own heart and your eyes
which lead you astray (Bamidbar, 15:39).
This verse does not speak about Tzaddikim, to refer to them as going astray, G-d forbid, but of people of
intermediate standing (benonim) like him, in whose mind do enter sexual fantasies, whether of an innocent
nature or otherwise. When he averts his mind from them, he is fulfilling the commandment of the verse. Indeed,
the Rabbis of blessed memory have said, He who has passively abstained from committing a sin, receives a
reward as though he had performed a precept (Kiddushin 39b). Consequently, he should rejoice at his
compliance with the injunction as when performing an actual positive precept.
On the contrary, this sadness is due to conceit in that he does not recognize his position (as a benoni and not a
tzaddik). Hence, he is sad at heart because he has not attained the rank of a tzaddik, in that tzaddikim are
certainly not troubled by such foolish thoughts. For had he recognized his station, that he is very far from the rank
of a tzaddik, and be happy in his being a benoni, and not a wicked person for even a single moment of his life.
For this is the nature of the service of the intermediate level to subdue the evil impulse and thought rising from
the heart to the brain, and to completely avert the mind therefrom, thrusting the temptation away with both hands,
as has been explained (Tanya, Ch. 12). And with every thrust that he expels the fantasy from his mind, the sitra
achra down below is suppressed, and since the stimulus from below causes a stimulus from above (Zohar
135b), the sitra achra above which soars like an eagle, is also suppressed, in accordance with what is written,
Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, thence I will bring thee down, says the L-rd (Ovadia, 1:4). Thus the
Zohar, Parshat Trumah, extols the great satisfaction before the Holy One Blessed Be He when the sitra achra is
subdued here below, for then the glory of the Holy One Blessed Be He rises above all, more than any other
praise, and this ascent is greater than all else (Zohar 128b).
Therefore, no person should feel depressed, nor should his heart become exceedingly troubled, even though he
be engaged all his days in this conflict, for perhaps because of this he was created, and this is his service
constantly to subjugate the sitra achra.

Advice of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (From Likutei Etzot,


Thoughts and Fantasies, 4).
Therefore, when sexual fantasies come upon ones thoughts, and the person breaks his passion and averts his
thoughts from them, this is his main tshuva and the principle manner that he rectifies his past transgressions to
the Brit, each person according to his deeds. This is doing repentance measure for measure. Thus, a person
shouldnt become depressed when he sees that wicked and ugly sexual fantasies are overwhelming him. On the
contrary this is his way of repentance and rectification, for precisely when these fantasies coming to him now
and he overcomes them, this is his main tshuva and tikun, and in this manner, he liberates sparks of holiness
that fell into impurity through transgressions to the Brit. This is the way he merits to rectify the Brit.

Tikunot and Hadrachot, Ch. 31


This is a rule that you should know, my son, the Holy One Blessed Be He does not test a person beyond his
powers and his ability to withstand the trial, because the Holy One Blessed Be He does not needlessly cause his
creations to suffer. On the contrary, the Holy One Blessed Be He only tests a man to his benefit, to elevate him,
and to bring him praise, and to rectify his soul. For a person is brought into this world precisely to undergo trials.
Holiness is not awarded to a person from Heaven as a gift without the withstanding of trials. And when a person
knows and believes that Holy One Blessed Be He is with him during all of his trials, then this faith strengthens his
mental and physical powers, and all evil forces are scattered before him.

Tikun Habrit According to the Abir Yaacov


By the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, AKA the Abir Yaacov
LEARNING TORAH
The letters of the first word of the Torah, Berashit, can be rearranged to spell Brit Aesh, meaning a Brit of Fire. [
] This comes to hint that for someone who has blemished the sign of the holy Brit, the most beneficial and
powerful tikun is to study Torah. There is in this path of repentance an atonement that matches the sin. For he
has heated himself in the fire of his evil inclination; and now, in order to rectify, he must come and heat himself in
the fire of the Torah. Furthermore, he blemished the Brit, and the Torah is also called Brit may one Brit come
and atone for the other. In addition, the Brit is called tov, and the Torah is called tov made one tov come and
atone for the other.
Behold, the Rishonim (early Torah authorities) took exception to what is written in the holy Zohar that tshuva is
possible for all transgressions, excluding those who blemish the sign of the Brit by spilling semen in vain. They
said how could this be since our Sages have told us that nothing stands in the way of repentance, even for one
who worships idols and denies the whole Torah? They explained that tshuva is connected with the exalted
spiritual configuration (partzuf) called Emma, and that whoever blemishes the Brit also blemishes this partzuf, so
that the rectification is to study Torah.
In this light, I can explain the verse: And the stream of the wadis that goes down to the dwelling of Ar, and lies
upon the borders of Moav (Bamidbar, 21:15). It is known that the (genetic) elements found in the zera (seminal
fluid) are derived from every organ of the body. It is further known that a person who emits semen in vain is
considered evil, as the verse says, Yehudas firstborn son, Er, was evil.... In this light, the the stream of the
wadis refers to the wasted zera that streams from all of a mans organs when the zera is spilled in vain.
Someone who does this wasteful act, he goes down to the dwelling of Ar, and when the word Ar is reversed, it
reads ra, meaning evil. His tikun is to lie upon the borders of Moav, that is to occupy himself with the Torah
whose source is Mav (from Abba), or according to the Kabbalah, from the partzuf of Abba. From this we learn
that Tikun HaBrit is to learn Torah. Let the fire of the Torah come and atone for the fire of evil inclination that he
followed in transgressing the Brit.This is the Torahs inference in the word Berashit, a Brit of Aesh or Fire,
meaning that the rectification of a person who damaged the Brit is to occupy himself with the learning of Torah
which is called fire.
PURSUE SHALOM
We can also learn more about this from the letters of the word Berashit. Its letters can be arranged to form the
initial letters of: Tikun Brit Yihiye Ohev Rodef Shalom [ ] meaning that a principle
rectification of the Brit is to pursue shalom. This is because in damaging the Brit, a person gives strength to the
Sitra Achra, which is called machloket (division), bringing disunity to a place of shalom. Thus in returning in
tshuva, the person must pursue shalom, and in so doing he will add harmony to the world, rectifying the blemish
he caused. Also hinted at in this arrangement of the letters of Berashit is the understanding that the learning of
Torah, which is called shalom, has the power to rectify. Let the learning of Torah, which is called shalom, come
and atone for the blemish to the Brit, which is also called shalom. This is the meaning of the verse: Or let him
take hold of My strength, that he would make shalom with me, and he shall make shalom with Me (Yishayahu,
27:5). The doubling of the word shalom in the language of the verse comes to teach that someone who
blemishes the Brit must occupy himself with the learning of Torah and with pursuing shalom. The meaning in the

verse of holding on to My strength is holding on to the Torah, which is called strength. Also in order make peace
with Me, you should pursue shalom. When you do this, the blemish you caused in the spiritual grade of the Brit,
which is known as shalom, will be rectified, in that you will have made peace with Me. Thus, an integral part of
the tikun to rectify damage done to the Brit is to pursue shalom.
TEACH OTHERS
The letters of the word Berashit can also be arranged to form the initial letters of: Tikun Brit Yilmad Acharim
Shalom Rav, [ ] to hint that someone who has transgressed against the Brit should
now teach the Torah to others in order to rectify what he has damaged. This is because violations to the Brit
cause holy sparks to be dispersed into the realm of the Sitra Achra. When a person returns in penitence and
teaches others Torah, this causes the holy sparks to be gathered up back to the realm of holiness of the holy
Jewish Nation. This can be seen in the anagram, Tikun Brit Yilmad Acharim Shalom Rav, since shalom rav is a
synonym for the Jewish People.
INCREASE TORAH LEARNING
The letters of Berashit can also form the initial letters of Ratzoi Brit Achre Shuvu Yirbe Torah [
] , meaning that in returning in tshuva from transgressions to the Brit, it is proper for a person to
increase his study of Torah by learning more Torah than was his wont before he sinned.
THE GREATEST MERIT
Also the letters of the word Berashit can be realigned as the initial letters of Blamdcha Torah Acharim Yaish
Sachar Rav [ ] . This hints at what the Sages have told us; that the reward of one who
teaches the Torah to others is greater than the reward of one who learns just for himself. Our Rabbis have
emphasized the exalted level of teaching Torah to others by saying that whoever teaches Torah to his friends
son merits to sits in the Yeshiva in heaven. And someone who teaches Torah to the son of an ignorant man, even
if G-d should decree something harsh on the world, this teacher of Torah can cancel the evil degree. Also, the
children whom a man teaches are considered his children, as it says, And you shall teach them to your
children. No one brings more merit on the congregation than the man who teaches the multitude Torah.
Therefore, a person who returns in tshuva should strive, if G-d grant him the honor, to study Torah and teach it to
others. He can have no merit greater than this, for in doing this he amends all that he damaged, and this
empowers him to rescue all of the sparks that he dispersed to the Sitra Achra. It also protects him from falling
back into sin, as our Rabbis taught: Everyone who brings merit to the congregation, no sin comes to his hand,
and there is no greater form of benefiting the multitude than in this. We can see that this implication is true in that
Berashit hints at tshuva, so that if a baal tshuva occupies himself with Torah, and teaches Torah to others, he
makes a great tikun and acquires great reward, as is implied in, Blamdcha Torah Acharim Yaish Sachar Rav in
teaching Torah to others, there is great reward.
LEARN THE SECRETS
The Gematria of Berashit bara Elokim, with the letter count, is equal to the numerical equivalent of Pashat,
Remez, Drash, vSod. This implies that one should occupy oneself with all of the levels of Torah learning. This
should be a goal of ones learning, so that nothing will be missing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai has already taught
us in the holy Zohar that the simple meaning of the Torah (the Pashat) is like the outer garment of the Torah,
because the Torah itself is a spiritual thing which cannot exist in this lower world with an outer garment. This is
similar to the angels who must dress themselves in the proper earthy attire when they descend to this world. Now
the Torah has no limit to its spiritual exaltation and holiness. Even the forms of its letters have infinite holiness
and sublime meanings without end, as the Kabbalists reveal. For this reason, the Sages praised the learning of
Torah more than the offering of sacrifices, because all of its learning is an exalted holy praising without end, even
to its very holy letters. The level of Remez contains additional holy matters. And the level of Sod contains the
most exalted understandings of all. And in the level of Drash everything is explained in a unique way of its
own.Behold, the essence of the Torah is the Sod, the secrets of the Torah.
As Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai has written in the holy Zohar, someone who does not learn the secrets of Torah, it
would have been better for him if he had not been born. For this is the sum of man. The main reason for his
creation is to know his Creator and to serve Him, and if he doesnt learn the secrets of Torah, how can he know

the essence of his Creator? How will he know how to serve Him? How will he know how to order his prayers? As
King David said to his son, Shlomo, Know the G-d of your father and serve Him. There is a parallel four-part
division in the Torah: the Scriptures, the Mishna, the Talmud, and the Kabbalah. They in turn parallel the four
worlds as explained by the Kabbalists: the Scripture and the world of Asiyah; the Mishna and the world of
Yetzirah; the Talmud and the world of Beriyah; the Kabbalah and the world of Atzilut. According to this, we can
say that the Pashat is the Scriptures; the Remez is the Mishna, since the understandings of the Scripture are
implied in it; the Drash is the Talmud, since there the Sages explained each matter of the Mishna; and the Sod is
the Kabbalah.
It seems, in my modest opinion, that this parallel can also be found in a man who merits it, appearing in his four
powers, his guf, nefesh, ruach, and neshama. A man is also composed of four basic elements: fire, air, water,
and earth. Furthermore, this parallels the four letters in the ineffable Name of G-d. The last letter Hai parallels the
Pashat and also the world of Asiyah. The letter Vav of G-ds Name parallels the Mishna and the world of Yetzirah.
The first Hai represents the Talmud and the world of Beriyah. And the letter Yud parallels the Kabbalah and the
world of Atzilut.
Since a man is composed of four basic elements, and four powers, which all parallel the four sections of the
Torah, and the four letters in G-ds Name, when a man commits a sin, he causes damage to himself, to the
Torah, to the letters comprising G-ds Name, and to the four worlds.
And behold, when a man is moved to return in repentance, the atonement must be equivalent to the sin in order
to rectify what was damaged. Since his transgression caused division to mans four powers, to the Torah, to the
four worlds, and to the Name of G-d, he must return and unify them. This unification is brought about by
occupying oneself with the Pardes, the four sections of Torah, Pashat, Remez, Drash, and Sod. This brings
about the unification of the worlds, the rectification of everything that was damaged, and the return of all matters
to their original healthy state. This is a great rectification for the person who returns in tshuva to occupy himself
with the study of Torah, with the special effort to study all its divisions.

Tikun Hatzot - The Actual Text


Part 2: Tikun Leah
Tikun Hatzot is divided into two parts: 1) Tikun Rachel and 2) Tikun Leah which appears in Hebrew below.
Tikun Leah is recited while sitting on a chair.


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Tehillim 43

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On days when Tachanun is not said, this Tehillim is not said.

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Tehillim 67 - If possible, recite it in its form of the Menorah

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Tehillim 111

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Tehillim 51 - with the intention of confessing one's sins:

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To be said standing, and with tears:

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Tehillim 126 - to be said with joy:


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The Secret of Elul

From the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the book, "Likutei Moharan," on the Hebrew month of Elul.
[Editor's note: To understand this essay, one needs to know that according the secrets of the Torah, if, G-d forbid,
a person masturbates or has a seminal emission under circumstances where it is not a mitzvah, then his semen
gives birth to "spiritual children" which gravitate against him as negative spiritual forces. As described below,
through tshuva (remorse and repentance), one may redeem these spiritual children and end their damaging
]influence upon him.
If a person merits to truly feel pain over his sins, so that he circumcises the foreskin of his heart - for as long as
his heart is sealed closed, he cannot truly feel this pain - then, when his heart is open within him, he will truly
experience this great anguish, and he will feel true sorrow and remorse. This powerful remorse will also be felt by
all of the hearts of all of the drops of seminal seed that went forth from him, in whatever place they may be, and
they will feel in their scattered places, both in the hearts of those who became his actual children in the physical
world, and also in the hearts of those disembodied souls who became trapped in the spiritual world of impurity
and evil, G-d forbid, for even in this Other Realm (of evil), these drops that emanated from him possess a heart
and all of the other organs.

Daddy, get me out of here


Thus, when the penitent removes the foreskin of his heart and feels genuine anguish and true sorrow and
remorse, then the hearts of these drops will feel too, in whatever place they may be, and they will become aware
of the truth that they are doomed in a polluted place in the abyss of the netherworld. For until then, it seemed to
them that things were fine in their being the princes of the underworld. But afterward, when their hearts were
circumcised because their father circumcised his own heart, then they felt with full force their horrendous station,
and they began to rise up and cry out in remorse, causing a very great noise and tumult amongst them.
And this is what is meant by the Torah verse: "And the L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart and the heart of
your seed, to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, so that you may live" (Devarim
30:6). This is to say that Hashem will circumcise the heart of the person and also circumcise the heart of his
offspring. This is the case wherever the drop of seminal seed went forth, if to his actual physical children, then
they will also experience thoughts of repentance through the remorse in their father's heart. And if the drops went
forth to the Other Realm, G-d forbid, then in that place, their hearts will be circumcised and they will feel the
anguish and remorse, as we have described.
And the time most appropriate for this is the month of Elul, for the letters of Elul ( ( are the beginning letters in
the verse, , "your heart and the heart of your seed," meaning that Hashem will circumcise your
heart and the hearts which depend upon you, wherever they may be, both the hearts of the seed that became
one's physical children and the hearts of the seed that were cast forth to the Other Realm, for they are also his
children whom are dependent upon him.
This is the reason that when a man dies, these spiritual children follow after his coffin and rise up in complaint
against him for his misdeeds, just as his actual children follow his funeral bed, but because they follow and rise
up against him in complaint against him, this is a terrible humiliation and shame, may the Compassionate One
have mercy.
May the Compassionate One have mercy from this punishment, as is known (to those initiated in the secrets of
Torah).

An Awesome, Awe-Inspiring Prayer For The Month Of Elul


[Composed by Rabbi Natan of Breslov, foremost disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov]
Print this prayer in PDF
May it be Thy will the L-rd my G-d, and G-d of my forefathers, that you assist me and grant me the merit in Your
great compassion and your awesome kindness, that I speedily merit to truly feel the pain of my many abundant
and awful sins, transgressions, and willful violations of the Torah that are piled up high to the sky, as innumerable
as the sands of the earth - especially the sexual sins that I committed which blemished the Covenant of the Brit,
the blemishes to the seminal drops that issue forth from the brain, that I spilled in vain, whether accidentally or
knowingly, whether against my will or willfully.

If I were to begin to feel the depth of the anguish of this awesome and terrible blemish, I do not know if I could
continue to exist, even for an hour, since You have taught us through Your righteous Tzaddikim the magnitude of
this stain which prolongs the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, and delays the Redemption, and causes the
Shechina to descend into exile, G-d forbid, and dooms the disembodied souls to the realm of the klipot, where
from each drop of wasted semen a destroying agent is created, may the Compassionate One have mercy. And
many other vast and terrible blemishes result from this, for all of the Torah is dependent on the Rectification of
the Brit, which is the foundation of everything. For this transgression damages all of the twenty-two letters of the
Torah, because the seminal drop is composed from them, as is known.
Truly, my heart is closed, and confused, and crooked, to such an extent that I don't feel at all the pain over my
numerous and weighty transgressions, even when I speak about them.
O, what is with me, what is with me? Even if I were to say a thousand times, "O, what is with me?" I still feel
nothing at all. What can I say? What can I claim? What can I ask for? How can I justify my deeds?
Nonetheless, You are compassionate with all mankind, and You see to the end of all generations, and you will
perfect all of us one day as You have promised. Therefore, to You I raise my hands in supplication. O mighty
Redeemer, help me! Teach me and instruct me at every moment, in whatever manner, in whatever way, how I
can merit to return to You in truth, from evil to good, from death to life, for my existence is very bitter.

Erez Levanon, a Breslov Hassid, murdered in Feb. 2007, while praying


My Father, my Creator, and my Redeemer, help me and save me quickly, that I merit to truly return to You with a
whole heart. Circumcise the evil foreskin of my heart, and open my heart in a manner that I will be able to feel the
anguish of my innumerable transgressions, so that I will be able to cry out from my heart a great and bitter cry,
fitting to my station - to cry out again and again Oy, Oy, Oy, over these weighty and terrible sins, to scream out in
truth with a full and broken and saddened heart, from its very depths, until the hearts of all of the souls of the
seminal drops that emanated from me, wherever they may be, will also feel my anguish, both the drops that went
forth in a permitted manner and became my real children, may they live a long and healthy life, and, on the
contrary, the drops that I spilled in vain, whether accidentally or willfully, and became what they became, each
and every one of them, woe is me, woe is me.
May my cry awaken them and cause the foreskins of their hearts to be circumcised also so that all of them,
wherever they may be, will feel the depth of their pain and sorrow, understanding that they are imprisoned in the
abyss of the underworld, in polluted places so frightening that it cannot be spoken, that such a thunderous noise
be raised amongst them, that all of them be awakened to return to the Blessed One in truth, to begin to yearn,
and to feel genuine sorrow, and to truly desire to be rectified and to return to G-d in truth, until Your benefiting
compassion is awakened, Your hidden mercy, Your great and goodly compassion, over me and over them.
Please act to heal us and redeem us speedily from the depths of the grave, and from all of the impure and
polluted realms into which we have fallen. Save us, redeem us, extract us from all of these place in safety.
Rectify us. May the King quickly return His scattered outcasts, for Your providence extends over everything.
Circumcise our hearts to love Your Name, as is written, "And the L-rd your G-d will circumcise your heart and the
heart of your seed to love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."
Our Father, our King, the living G-d, our Maker, our Portion, save our beloved remnant from destruction for the
sake of the Covenant that You stamped in our flesh. Grant me the merit to quickly circumcise the foreskin of my
heart and that of my offspring, especially during these holy days of Elul. Grant me the merit that I may now truly
prepare myself spiritually so that I may merit that these special holy days of Elul work in my behalf to help me

completely circumcise the foreskin of my heart and the hearts of my offspring in truth, so that I may merit in this
present lifetime to completely rectify my wrongdoings and blemishes in the merit of the true Tzaddikim
(Righteous Jews), myself and my offspring and all those who are dependent upon me, that I not be ashamed and
embarrassed and fail forever, being left in my initial shame, so that my transgressions have no power to hover in
waiting over the opening of my grave, G-d forbid. Rather, allow me to rectify everything in this lifetime, in the
power and merit of the true Tzaddikim, for I have no hope or support without them, for we are still waiting for the
good and promised salvation that will come in their merit and strength.
You who is full of mercy, consider me in kindness and have compassion upon me and rescue me from shame
and humiliation, that no destructive or evil agent will have the power to approach me at the time of my death, and
that they should not follow after my coffin, G-d forbid. Please in your great mercy, cast them far from me, and
totally wipe them out, now and forever more. Have mercy on me in Your abundant pardon and mighty
forgiveness that I merit to rectify in my lifetime everything that I damaged with my sins. Forgive me for everything
in this lifetime, so that I will not have to face any judgment and sentence in the world to come. Even though I
know that in truth I am far from deserving this kind of salvation, for through what do I merit such a thing?
Nevertheless, I trust in Your great compassion and I rest on Your kindness, on Your forgiveness I wait, and on
Your salvation I yearn, through the merit and power of the true Tzaddikim of our time, and through the merit of
the true Tzaddikim who rest in the earth, on them we lean for support, and in their merit I have come before You
with my plea.
Therefore, I stand and anticipate and hope for Your mighty salvation, that I speedily merit the fulfillment of all that
I have asked for in Your Presence, for You look toward the evil doer and desire his repentance and his return to
the righteous way. And if I have greatly delayed in returning to You, and even added more and more frightful
transgressions each day, nevertheless, I still anticipate each day that my salvation will come with my soul's
redemption, that I may quickly merit to awaken from my slumber, and to rise from my fallen state, to rise up from
my descent, and to return to life from the death that has seized me, to return to You in truth and with a whole
heart, me and my seed, and my children's offspring, and all the seed of Your nation the House of Israel, from now
until forever, Amen, Selah.
The holiday of Pesach celebrates our freedom from the bondage of Egypt with the goal of establishing the Nation
of Israel in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). In addition to our physical liberation from the slavery of Pharoah and
his evil taskmasters, we experienced a spiritual liberation as well from the impure Egyptian culture and the
rampant immorality that festered there.
The commandments of the Pesach holiday, and especially the Seder night, are designed to help us reexperience both facets of our freedom, the national/physical and the cultural/spiritual as well.
In order to explore our spiritual liberation and thus better understand who we are as a nation, we will take a
glimpse at some secrets of Torah, culled from the Midrash, the Zohar, the writings of the Arizal, and the teachings
of our Tzaddikim, masters of the Kabbalah from the past and present. We will present just a few, in a very simple
manner, with the understanding that the matters are much deeper and far more esoteric than our explanation.
Ancient Egypt was the spiritual and cultural cesspool of the world. Promiscuity, adultery, and sexual perversion
were the norm. When our Sages write that no foreign nation in Egypt ever escaped from the land, they mean it in
a spiritual sense, as well as the physical. The clutches of temptation and sin were so powerful that no people, in
the natural course of events, could shake off the shackles of lust that marked Egyptian life.

Jews recline on Pesach night before eating the Pesach offering in Temple times

The Jews were no exception. After 200 years dwelling in such a polluted, immoral environment, we plummeted to
the 49th degree of impurity and would have been immediately destroyed if G-d had not miraculously interfered
and rescued us with the utmost haste, speeding our exodus from the land.
Our Sages tell us that we were redeemed from Egypt due to the merit of the two mitzvot (commandments) which
G-d commanded us to perform on the eve of our departure - the Paschal sacrifice and the brit milah. Both of
these commandments were designed to free us from our spiritual slavery to the lusts of the body, and liberate us
to true freedom as servants to G-d. Among a cornucopia of bestial doings, the Egyptians worshipped the lamb.
Among the domestic beasts, sheep are known for their fecundity. In a similar manner, licentiousness was an
integral part of this idol worship. Our Sages teach us that the Jewish People only worshipped idols as an excuse
to engage in the sexual debauchery that went with it.
In commanding every Jewish household in Egypt to take a lamb, the Egyptians' god, and slaughter it for the
Pesach offering, G-d was commanding us to slaughter the physical lusts in ourselves that lead to the perversion
of the holy marital union, and to the pollution of the holy life force of our nation. Interestingly, we were
commanded to tie the lambs to our bedposts, not to the door, or the window, or kitchen table, but to our beds,
precisely to drive this point into our individual and national consciences that we are to be a holy people,
separated by the purity of our sexual lives from all of the other nations in the world.
This is the very same lesson of the brit milah. Only a man who was circumcised was allowed to partake in eating
the Passover lamb. The removal of the foreskin both symbolizes, and physically effects, the removal of the
impure physical lusts that accompany the marital union.

The Pesach Lamb

On the eve of our departure from the bondage of Egypt and from our servitude to its debauched and immoral
culture, we were called to renew the Brit of our Forefathers, the founding Covenant between G-d and the Jewish
People, whereby we safeguard the purity of our sexual lives, symbolized by the brit milah, and G-d, for His part,
promises us the Land of Israel as our eternal inheritance. Thus the Zohar teaches that in the merit of the blood of
the slaughtered Paschal lamb (the korban Pesach) and the blood of the brit milah, we were redeemed from the
spiritual dungeon of Egypt.
This mixture of blood was to be splattered on the doorposts of our houses, as a sign to G-d that a Jew lived
within, when G-d came to slaughter the firstborn of Egypt and to lead us out of slavery:
"And they shall take the blood, and put it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses in
which they shall eat.... And the blood shall be to you for a sign upon the houses where you are; and when I see
the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of
Egypt.... For the L-rd will pass through to smite Egypt, and when He sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the
two side posts, he will pass over the door (petach), and will not allow the destroyer to come into the house to
destroy you" (Shemot, 12, 7-23).
Obviously, G-d does not need signs to know whether a Jew or an Egyptian lives in a certain house. The Almighty
sees everything without needing splatterings of blood on doorposts. So what is the meaning of this?
Once again, the secrets of Torah illuminate our understanding. Based on the Zohar, the Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu
Leon Levi, explains that the underlying mystical meaning is speaking about us. The two side posts of the door
represent the legs of person. The upper mantle represents the torso. The blood was to be placed where a
mezuza is fastened to a doorpost, two-thirds of the way to the top. This represents the place of the Brit, the male
organ. Just as the word "Shaddai" is written on the outside of a mezuza, signifying one of the Names of G-d, so
to the brit milah is considered to be invisibly stamped with this same Name of G-d.
Rabbi Levi states that when a man guards the holiness of his sexual life, he bears the Name "Shaddai," inscribed
on his Brit. But if, G-d forbid, he succumbs to sexual transgression, the Hebrew letter "Yud" flies off from the
Name, leaving , the Hebrew word for a demon. This evil spiritual force enters the "petach" or opening of the
Brit, and makes its way though the body, bringing terrible destruction and diseases in its wake, may G-d have
mercy.
"When a decree of Judgment is issued to destroy," Rabbi Levy explains, "This opening of the Brit is the first place
the destroying angel looks. If a man has guarded his Brit, the destroying angel passes over the opening, and the
man is saved. But if the person has committed sexual transgressions, he is smitten. This is the esoteric meaning
of, He will pass over the door (petach), and will not allow the destroyer to come into the house to destroy you.'"
Once again, we see that the commitment to abandon sexual transgression was the key to our redemption from
Egypt. This separation from sexual immorality is the essence of the Jewish People, "a nation of priests and a
holy nation." Only when we rose above the sordidness and pollution of Egyptian culture could we escape from
the chains of its bondage.
Now let's take a glimpse at our painstaking search for bread crumbs and leaven before the holiday of Pesach
begins. Once again, Rabbi Levi explains the inner spiritual meaning according to the Kabbalah. "Some people
think that by scattering ten pieces of bread around the house, representing the ten foremost evil spiritual forces
(kleipot) embodied in the 10 sons of Haman, and by burning them in the morning, they have gotten rid of all of
their chametz. When in fact, their houses are filled with the evil spiritual forces that they themselves have created
in their very own bedrooms due to their wrongful doings. This is the spiritual chametz which we are commanded
to oust from our homes.
When a man burns his bread crumbs, he should cry out to G-d in tears, recite the Tikun HaYesod prayers, and
beg G-d to forgive him for his errant ways and all of the blemishes he caused to the Brit. Then he can sit down to
his evening Seder with a clean heart, prepared to receive all of the transcendental spiritual treasures of the
night."

One other note. Rabbi Levy stresses the importance of celebrating the Seder night at home, not in a hotel, no
matter how glatt kosher it may be. First, he says that the Holy One Blessed One Be He comes to our houses on
Pesach night with Eliahu HaNavi (Elijah the prophet), and their visit burns up all of the evil spiritual forces that our
chametz search didn't find. But if the family is away at a hotel, these exalted guests don't come, and the
opportunity for a new beginning is lost. Secondly, many Kosher hotels employ non-Jews in the kitchen, and who
knows what they do with their Wonder Bread and pita, whether accidentally or to spite. "During Pesach time,"
Rabbi Levi says, "The hotel may be kosher, but Mohammed is the one in charge."
Therefore, he says, if you want to enjoy the rewards of the holiday, celebrate the Seder at home, or with your
parents, where you will receive the same reward as if you had stayed at home because of the greatness of the
mitzvah of honoring one's father and mother.
Shabbat Zachor is upon us, when we have the obligation to remember what Amalek did to us when we departed
from Mitzrayim.
"Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you by the
way and smote the hindmost of you, all that were feeble in your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he
feared not G-d (Devarim, 25:17).
Just what is it that we are supposed to remember?

Verses on Amalek are read from the Torah in public before Purim
Usually, during their Shabbat Zachor sermons, the rabbis explain Rashi's third understanding of the verse. Rashi
writes that the Hebrew for "how he met you by the way" - "karcha baderech" - comes from the word "kar"
meaning cold. Thus in attacking Israel, Amalek showed the nations of the world that, notwithstanding all of the
miracles in Egypt, the Jewish People were not invincible, just as when a scoundrel jumps into a scalding bathtub,
even though he gets burnt, he cools it off for others to follow after him.
This is all well and good, but it ignores the explanations of Rashi which precede it. Rashi's first explanation is that
"karcha" derives from the Hebrew word, "mikre," meaning happenstance. In other words, Amalek attacked the
Jews just for the sake of attacking, for seemingly no real reason, since the Jews were not threatening to conquer
Amalek's land.
It is the second explanation of Rashi that we will analyze here in depth, because within it lies the key to
understanding the inner, spiritual danger we face today in our present war against Amalek. The strategy of
Amalek, in the past, and once again today, is to destroy the Jewish People by luring us into sexual transgression,
G-d forbid.
Rashi says that "karcha" should be understood as keri, meaning seminal pollution. Rashi explains that Amalek
lured the Jews into sexual transgression, then cut off their "milot," the sign of their circumcision, and threw them
up to the sky, as if to say, "This is what's left of Your holy nation." Rashi concludes that the protective Clouds of
Glory spit out these Jews who were feeble because of their sexual sins. These were the Jews whom Amalek
killed.
The "Baal HaTurim" commentary says that the word "karcha" has the same gematria (numerical equivalent) as
saris, meaning "castrated." Furthermore, the words, "vayizanev bicha," meaning, "and smote the hindmost of
you," has the gematria of "zeh milah," meaning, "this is the place of circumcision." The "Baal HaTurim" adds that
the Hebrew for "all that were feeble in your rear," has the gematria of "this was the tribe of Dan."
What does all of this mean?

The "Sfat Emet" explains that Amalek's principal goal in going to war against Israel was to banish sexual purity
from the world, represented by the brit milah. This is why they cast the sign of the circumcision into the air. The
brit milah is considered the seal of G-d, stamping the Jewish People with the Name of G-d. The nation of Amalek
represents the spirit of evil in the world, the impure orlah, the husk that prevents the light of G-d from entering the
world. This explains why the Name of G-d cannot be fully revealed in the world until Amalek is obliterated. By
fighting against the sexual purity of Israel, Amalek damages the Brit, returning the orlah to its place, and causing
G-d's Name to depart from the world ("Sfat Emet," Parshat Zachor, Year 5664).
In the language of the Kabbalah the word "derech" is associated with the sefirah of the Yesod (Arizal, "Likutei
Torah," Toldot, Ch.3). As we have mentioned on many occasions, the Yesod parallels the Brit in man, the spiritual
channel that brings Divine blessing into the world. The word "derech" is also an aphorism for sexual relations.
"Karcha baderech" thus means damaging the Yesod through sexual transgression.
This was Amalek's plan.
But as long as Israel guarded the Brit, the Clouds of Glory, also derived from the Yesod, guarded over them
hermetically. Were Israel to lose its Divine protection, it could be defeated in war. The holiness of the Israeli
camp, exemplified by its sexual purity, is the key to its defense, as it says, "For the L-rd thy G-d walks in the
midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thy enemies from before thee, therefore shall thy camp be holy,
that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee" (Devarim, 23:15). When the Clouds of Glory cast
out the unchaste of Israel, Amalek was waiting to fulfill its evil design.
The Zohar asks, "What is the reason that the war that Amalek waged against Israel was singled out for
remembering by the Holy One Blessed Be He, more than all the wars that all other nations waged against Israel?
The Zohar answers that Amalek waged both a physical war against Israel and a spiritual war, in order to defile
Israel's sexual purity and thus alienate them from G-d" (Zohar, Shemot 194b).
The Zohar continues:
"How do we know this? Because it is written, how he met you by the way.' The meaning of karcha can be
understood from its alternate form mikre, as in the verse, If there be among you any man that is not pure by
reason of impurity that chances (mikre) by night' (Devarim, 23:11) Amalek set against you the evil serpent on
high in order to defile you on all sides. And if Moshe had not waged a mighty spiritual battle on high, and
Yehoshua a mighty war down below, Israel would not have been able to overcome him. It is for this reason that
the Holy One Blessed Be He insisted on preserving the memory of this hatred from generation to generation.
What is the reason? Because Amalek strove to uproot the sign of the Brit (Israel's sexual purity) from its place"
(Ibid).
Accordingly, Moshe chose Yehoshua, who came from the descendents of Yosef, the upholder of the Brit, who
conquered his sexual passion, to wage war against Amalek. Thus Yehoshua, the embodiment of the holy Brit,
was chosen to fight against Amalek, the embodiment of the impure orlah. Interestingly, the gematria of
"milchamah b'Amalek" (war against Amalek) equals "Yosef HaTzaddik."
The Zohar relates how Bilaam also would enter a defiled state of keri in order to cast his polluted curses on Israel
(loc. cited). It was also Bilaam who advised Balak to send the daughters of Moav to whore with the Children of
Israel, in order to estrange them from G-d, and thus pave the way for their slaughter, may Heaven always protect
us. Bilaam understood that the G-d of the Jewish People hates licentiousness more than anything else. The
Zohar teaches that Bilaam and Balak were rooted in Amalek, whose spelling is contained in letters of their
names (Zohar, Bereshit 25a). In adopting the strategy of Amalek, they succeeded in bringing about the death of
24,000 Jews. It was Pinchas who saved the day, upholding the Brit by killing Zimri and preventing him from
leading the nation into further sexual transgression.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches that in being "reishit goyim Amalek," the leader of the peoples, Amalek
encompasses both Yishmael and Esav. Amalek embodies the impurity of the primordial serpent, who brought
about the downfall of Adam and Eve by wiling them into sexual lust and transgression (pagam habrit). Ever since

then, the task of mankind has been to rectify this sin, through tikun habrit. All of life depends on this ("Likutei
Halachot," Purim, 3).
With the successive failures of the generations which followed after Adam, the mantle fell upon the Jewish
People. Leaving Egypt, we held up the banner of the Brit, the emblem of sexual purity. With the arrival of the
Nation of Israel on the center stage of history, it was going to be a new and brighter world, stripped of the
darkening orlah. But the minute we let down our guard, and our faith in G-d, Amalek, the primordial serpent,
attacked, returning the world to darkness. The wicked Amalek, and his descendants, have no tikun. Thus, in
order to perfect the world, Amalek must be destroyed.
The holy Sage and Kabbalist, Rabbi Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin, explains the evils of Amalek in several of his
works. He explains that Amalek and Esav dominate in the world when Israel falls from its Divine stature through
sexual transgression ("Resisae Lilah," 23:1). When this occurs, holiness recedes from the world, and mankind is
shrouded by an outer covering of evil. This is because holiness can only be found in a place that is detached
from sexual sin, and this can only be found in Israel. This holiness is symbolized by the brit milah, which is
considered the seal of G-d, stamped precisely on the sexual organ.
Rabbi Tzaddok explains that ever since the sin of Adam, mankind was infested with lust. The brit milah was given
to the Nation of Israel as a tikun, to rectify the world from its fallen state. Sexuality for the Jewish People was to
be a commandment in the service of G-d, sanctifying the act and the holy offspring who would derive from it. This
sexual holiness was what Amalek was seeking to erase from the world when they came and tempted the weak
and erring Jews. Therefore, when they castrated their victims, thy threw their milot skyward, and called out to
Heaven, "Take that which You chose for Yourself." As if to say that the Jews were no different than the other
nations in their submission to animal passions and lust.
For Amalek could not tolerate that there could be a nation, Israel, that sanctified the sexual act. They could not
tolerate the idea that G-d had a part in this too (Ibid, 48:17-20). "Thus the verse says, karcha baderech,'
meaning that they caused the Jews to spill semen in an unholy way. For when the sexual act is not performed in
its intended holy fashion as a mitzvah, but rather after the lustful inclination, which is called evil, this is
considered mikre,' spilling semen in vain." And there is nothing which causes the Divine Presence to flee from
the world more than the spilling of semen in vain, which is the ultimate evil. And this was Amalek's goal, to
remove the Presence of G-d from the world, so that mankind could be free to wallow in its lusts and evil
inclination (Rabbi Tzaddok, "Takanat Hashavin," 10:13).
Rabbi Tzaddok explains that we read the portion of remembering Amalek before Purim on Shabbat Zachor in
order to awaken Israel's sanctity in regards to the Brit, because when this sanctity rises, then the impurity of
Amalek falls, paving the way for his destruction on Purim ("Yisrael Kiddoshim," 8:27).
Today, the spirit of Amalek in the world is still trying to uproot the sign of the Brit from Israel by exporting all of its
immoral culture and pornography to the Holy Land. Throughout the Diaspora, the spirit of Amalek is working
overtime to lure the Jews into the grave sexual transgression of assimilation. Like their fathers before them,
these modern day sons of Amalek and Bilaam are hoping that this pollution will sever our connection with G-d,
leaving us vulnerable prey to their ever-evil designs of destroying our holy nation, and thus eradicating the
Presence of G-d in the world, may the Almighty foil their plans.
This is what we have to remember, and guard against, and fight with education and counseling, in order to repel
this plague of spiritual pollution from our borders, from our streets, and from our homes, via television, Internet,
and the like. This is what our rabbis must teach from this Torah portion in order to alert the nation of this insipid
and poisonous threat that undermines the very foundation of our existence - the Covenant of sexual purity that
G-d established with our forefather Avraham and with his offspring after him, to be a holy nation in the Holy Land.
It is by sanctifying our lives that we blot out the memory of Amalek, and in so doing, the L-rd G-d of Israel shall be
One, and His Name shall be One - King over all of the earth.
For the last several years, come this time of year, I try to invite friends to an uplifting night of "Shovavim" prayers
designed to cleanse a person from the stains of sexual transgression. The people who come along always have
a great time, but others reject the idea outright, saying, "That's Kabbalah," "That's Hasidut," or "Where is it written
in the Shulchan Aruch?"

Who's afraid to face up to the Big Bad Wolf?


Others say they will consider it, but never call back. My question is, why are so many people afraid when it
comes to facing up to their sexual errors? It is like finding a spring of water in a desert and offering a drink to a
friend, who shakes his head and says, "Who says that it's water? There isn't any spring on my map. Maybe it's all
an illusion."
On billboards throughout Israel, posters announcing the commencement of "Shovavim" are beginning to appear
in an assortment of bright, attractive colors. The word "Shovavim" forms the initial Hebrew letters of the six
consecutive Torah portions beginning with this Sabbath's reading of "Shemot." According to the Kabbalistic
tradition, this six week period, paralleling the Torah's account of the Exodus from Egypt, is especially conducive
to rectifying sexual transgressions, known as transgressions to the Brit (Arizal, Shar HaYichudim, 4:3). Because
this year is a leap year, the Shovavim period will include an extra two weeks.
In his book, "Orot HaKodesh," Rabbi Kook writes that the days will come when the world's crass and lust-filled
culture will gaze with exalted admiration on the Divine splendor found in Israel's quest for sexual purity, "which is
bound up in the Tikun HaYesod, and in all of the fasts and vibrant supplications of the Shovavim, as they are
revealed in the moral light of the secrets of Torah" ("Orot HaKodesh," Part 3, Pg. 296).
During the next six weeks, myriads of Jews will gather on Thursdays in synagogues across the country to recite
special Kabbalistic prayers, formulated to cleanse a person from the well-known "sin of youth," and the deep,
lasting blemishes of sexual transgression. For example, a bright yellow poster pasted up all over Jerusalem
announces that the well-known Kabbalist, Rabbi David Batzri, will lead the "Tikun HaYesod" prayers this
Thursday afternoon at the HaShalom Yeshiva for Kabbalistic Study. "Tikun HaYesod" means rectifying the
spiritual channel (the sefirah of Yesod) that brings Divine blessings to the individual and to the nation. As
emphasized in the Zohar, and throughout the entire Kabbalistic tradition, this channel is most severely damaged
by sexual transgressions, such as masturbation, sex out of wedlock, or sex with non-Jews.
Rabbi Batzri's ubiquitous street poster states:
"As is known, the verse, There is no righteous person who does good and does not sin' (Kohelet, 7:20) is
referring to the area of sexual transgressions, which give birth to destructive spiritual forces which pursue a
person to his great harm, both in this world and the next. Nearly all of the tribulations, sufferings, wars, illnesses,
plagues, and poverty that come upon a person - all derive from transgression to the covenant of sexual
purity (Pagam HaBrit)."
Because the readership over the Internet encompasses all ages, religions, and

levels of Torah knowledge, we cannot here explain the secrets involved in this dramatic proclamation. In the
simplest of metaphors, someone who has not cleansed himself of the spiritual pollution caused by sexual
misconduct is like the character in the comic strip "Peanuts" who walks around with a cloud of dirt surrounding
him wherever he goes.

Because the stains left by sexual sins are so penetrating, the usual ways of repentance don't do the whole job.
As the Zohar emphasizes, these transgressions can only be rectified by a "great and constant penitence"(Zohar,
Shemot, 3b). Without this super t'shuva (penitence), an invisible cloud of spiritual impurity will follow the
transgressor everywhere, interfering in his life, whether in matters of health, family, or livelihood. For this reason,
the masters of the Kabbalah have formulated the special prayers and rectifications (tikunim) of "Shovavim" to
make the task of laundering easier.
The saintly Tzanz-Klausberg Rebbe, leader of the Tzanz Hasidic community, and founder of the Lanyado
Medical Center in Netanya, stressed that even married men and Torah scholars must make a concerted effort
to repent during the "Shovavim" period ("Halichot Chaim," Holidays and Seasons, Chapter on "Shovavim"). To
inspire his community, he would give passionate sermons as the weeks of "Shovavim" approached, exclaiming
that it was even more important to put one's whole heart to repenting at this time, then during the High Holy
Days! He exhorted his followers to do t'shuva, not out of depression over their errant ways, but rather to let their
broken hearts give way to the joy of deliverance. If he sensed that his congregation wasn't feeling genuine
remorse, he would cancel the prayers, blaming himself for not being able to inspire them with a true fear of sin.
The "Tikun HaYesod" to be led by Rabbi Batzri, and the day fast which accompanies it, is promised to be an
overall redemption, taking the place of the 84 fasts that the Arizal states are needed to repent for each sexual
transgression (See the Tanya, Igeret HaT'shuva, Ch. 3, and Mishnat Chassidim, Tractate T'shuva). Rules for the
"Shovavim" fasts are recorded by the Torah giant, Rabbi Yaakov Emden, in his scholarly prayer book, the "Beit
Yaakov." There are one day fasts, part-day fasts, week-long fasts from one Sabbath to the next, and a forty day
fast for the more robust in nature. Since fasting lowers the production of blood in the body, it is considered like
bringing a sacrifice of atonement. For people whose health would be injured through fasting, the "Beit Yaakov"
states that charity may be given instead, along with heartfelt repentance and the recital of a Kabbalistic
confession ("Siddur Beit Yaakov" Pgs. 370-371).
In addition, during this period, a person should diligently study the Torah. He should be very careful to guard
against ordinary, unholy conversation. He should also be very careful to guard against being critical of others,
and should avoid anger, even on behalf of the Torah; and he should keep far away from cynicism, frivolity, and
from arrogance. He should be very humble, and he should take special care in reciting the blessings over foods
with added concentration. And every day a person should learn at least one complete section of Psalms and
study chapters of Mishna from the tractate Taharot.
A warning against excessive fasting is stressed by the founder of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Schneur Zalman
of Liadi, known as the "Baal HaTanya," after his classic treatise, the "Tanya." He writes: "Whoever would be
affected adversely by many fasts, and might suffer illness or pain, G-d forbid, as in contemporary generations, is
forbidden to engage in many fasts.... It goes without saying that a student of Torah who fasts too much is doing a
sin, and is doubly punished, for the weakness resulting from his fasts prevents him from studying Torah properly."
The generous giving of charity, the Baal HaTanya writes, is the preferable method of atonement (Igeret
HaKodesh, Ch.3).
It is known that in his passionate yearning to vanquish and subdue his evil inclinations, the Tzanz-Klausberg
Rebbe would engage in bouts of self-mortification. He would fast throughout the week, immerse in freezing
ponds, roll himself in the snow, sleep on the ground, go into self-imposed exile without any money in his pocket,
and even rub all of his body with a fiery weed that brought on inflammation and boils. But the greatest tikun, he
taught, and the most effective way to conquer the evil inclination, was to study Torah day and night, especially
during the weeks of "Shovavim" (source cited, Pg. 51).
In addition to advocating increased Torah learning during this period, he would prescribe fasting from speaking,
known as a "taanit debor," asserting that anyone who committed transgressions with his speech was certain to
also commit sexual transgressions, something explained in the esoteric secrets of Torah (Chida, "Ahavat
HaKodesh," Tzipora Shamir, 7:101).
While "Shovavim" and "Tikun HaYesod" posters are ubiquitous today on Israel's streets, just some thirty years
ago, the situation was very different. The saintly Tzaddik, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi of Bnei Brak, was the first
modern Kabbalist to bring "Tikun HaYesod" to the masses. "I would go out to the street with a bucket of glue and
posters announcing the upcoming tikun," he relates. "An hour later, the posters would all be torn down. Today,

thank G-d, you see 'Tikun HaYesod' posters in every city, and 'Shovavim' prayers are being led by all the big
rabbis. With so much immodesty wherever you turn, people are finally realizing that we need the special
protection of the 'Tikun HaYesod' prayers to purify us from our mistakes."
The colorful "Tikun HaYesod" posters filling Israel's streets suggest that the fulfillment of Rabbi Kook's vision is
not far away. There are different variations of the "Shovavim" gatherings, depending on the Kabbalistic tradition
which the presiding Rabbi follows. While he also has taken upon himself long bouts of fasting in the past, Rabbi
Leon Levi does not advise it for others. Instead, he recommends saying daily penitential prayers, like his own
"Tikun HaYesod Yeshuat Eliahu," and adding a truer fear of Heaven to one's service of G-d, for instance, by
saying the blessings over food with extra concentration, and by being more modest in one's marital relations.
While many "Shovavim" ceremonies are conducted on Thursday afternoon, Rabbi Leon Levy holds nightlong
sessions in different cities around the country. The standing-room-only gatherings begin with the Rabbi leading
everyone in a soul-searching recital of "Tikun Hatzot," [the Midnight Rectification] mourning the destruction of the
Temple and our long and bitter exile. The men can't see the ladies in the women's section, but my wife tells me
that it is always packed. The spiritual roller coaster ends just before dawn with the trumpeting of shofars and the
incomparably joyous recital of the "Tikun HaYesod" of the holy and revered Sephardi Kabbalist, the"Ben Eish
Chai." In the course of the night, there are fascinating words of Torah, while trays and trays of exotic food seem
to float through the air, passed hand-to-hand throughout the jammed-packed synagogue.
In the middle of the night, while the women recite a special women's "tikun" composed by Rabbi Levi, the men
rush to the nearest mikvah to immerse before the pre-dawn finale. When everyone returns, invigorated, chilled,
and out of breath, the ark filled with Torah scrolls is opened and shofars blare. In his youth, Rabbi Leon was the
lead Sephardi cantor of the Great Tel Aviv Synagogue, and still today, his incredible, heaven-piercing voice rings
out over the ecstatic cries [To hear, click thru to pictures of Tikun Yesod and select slide 4 entitled "Rav Eliahu
Leon Levi"] and songs of supplication to open the gates of forgiveness for everyone present. As the thunderous
shouting of the tikun crescendos, the crowd is seized with an indescribable joy. The experience is absolutely
mind-blowing, a profound spiritual cleansing that one doesn't readily forget.
This week's tikun is in the city of Holon on 12 Rothschild Street (Dec 27, 2007), commencing at 11:00 pm.
Anyone who is interested can check out dates, places, and times of upcoming Shovavim tikunim on the
homepage of this site.
Once again, because of the problem of revealing esoteric Torah ideas to an internet audience of all ages, levels
of Torah learning, and religions; and because of the author's paucity of true esoteric knowledge, we will only
present some selected insights into the deeper meanings of Hanukah.
At the time of the Hanukah story, under the pernicious influence of Hellenism, the Jewish People became so
assimilated and so estranged from G-d, they failed to see the miracle in the incredible military victory of the
heroic band of Hasmonean rebels. It took the miracle of the Menorah to make them realize that just as G-d had
kept the tiny cruse of oil burning for eight miraculous days, it was also G-d who had miraculously led the
Hasmonean fighters to victory.
Certainly the Maccabees were brave, fearless fighters and daring military strategists.

But this alone cannot account for their battlefield successes over the largest, most powerful, most mightilyequipped army in the world, a devastating opponent backed by endless warships, a division of elephant-tanks,

and hundreds of thousands of soldiers. What then was the secret of the Maccabees triumph? What was the
source of the miracle?
At the center of the Greek plan to uproot the Torah from Israel was their strategy to lure the Jews into sexual
transgression. The Jewish People's belief that G-d ruled over the physical world, as well as the spiritual, was
something that the hedonistic Hellenist culture could not allow. Thus the Greeks forced the Jews to write on the
horn of an ox, "We do not have a portion in the G-d of Israel." According to the Kabbalah, the horn (keren)
represents the sefirah of Yesod, which parallels the sexual organ in man ("Sod HaHashmal," Rabbi Yekutiel
Zalman Zev, Part 2, Pg. 571).

A Greek party (450 BCE)


In other words, the Greeks did not want the G-d of the Jews interfering in their sexual orgies. Their culture of
sexual permissiveness could not tolerate a Divine, co-existing culture that outlawed sexual sin. So after
conquering the Land of Israel, the Greeks set up their brothels in Jerusalem and hung up bright neon signs
reading: JEWS ALLOWED.
For the majority of Jews, this encounter with a culture that glorified the flesh while lauding the arts and lofty
intellectual expression, proved to be too much of a challenge. Young Jewish males stripped off their clothes and
rushed to compete in the nude sporting Olympics. Craving to be like the Greeks, the Jewish Hellenists stretched
their orlah [foreskins] back over the sign of their Brit, in order to look like their masters. Enraptured by the
tantalizing synthesis of Greek intellectuality and unbridled bohemianism, Jews abandoned the synagogue and
study halls, adopted Greek names, dressed up in Greek tunics, flocked to Greek theaters, bathed in Greek spas,
and drank alongside the "enlightened" foreigners in their pornographic pubs.
This literal and cultural pulling back of the orlah stretched a curtain of darkness over the Jewish People. The
Kabbalist elder, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levy, explains that the Nation of Israel's descent into sexual transgression is
the esoteric meaning of "The Greeks entered the Sanctuary and ravaged it, and defiled all that had been ritually
pure" (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah, Ch.3). The Greeks entered the sanctuary of Jewish sexual chastity and
defiled all of the ritual purity.
The Greeks were not content to merely defile the men. Among the harsh decrees that the Greeks imposed on the
Jews, the Rambam mentions the ravaging of Jewish daughters (Ibid). Before Jewish brides were allowed to
marry, they were first forcefully taken to the Greek governor to satisfy his lust.
It is told that Mattityahu's daughter, in bold defiance against this edict, appeared naked before her father and
brothers. Enraged, they cried out that she must be killed. "Me, you are ready to kill," she challengingly answered.
"But not the wicked Greek occupiers who are polluting all of the daughters of Israel and who have brought this
terrible immodesty upon us!" (Ketubot 3b, Midrash Ma'ase Hanukah, Rashi on Yehezkel 21:18, Megilat Ta'anit on
Elul 17)
Shaken by the words of his daughter and by the horrible disgrace, Mattityahu and his five sons rose up like lions
against the enemies of Israel and G-d. When the Greek governor sent an officer to erect an altar in Modiin and
force the Jews to sacrifice upon it, Mattityahu rushed forward to slay him. The "Book of the Maccabees" relates:

"Thus he showed his zeal for the Torah, as Pinchas had done toward Zimri, son of Salu. Then Mattityahu cried
out in a loud voice in the town, saying, "Let everyone who is zealous for the Torah and who guards the Brit
[covenant - sexual purity], follow me!"
In Mattityahu's very first cry to battle lies the secret of Hanukah. First, we must note the comparison to Pinchas.
On the advice of the wicked Bilaam, Balak sent the daughters of Midian to entice the men of Israel into sexual
transgression (BaMidbar, 25:2-15). The tribe of Shimon had already selected for themselves 24,000 Midian
women who were put aside while they eagerly waited to see what would happen with Zimri, their leader. If he got
away with his act of whoring, they were ready to follow suit.
When Pinchas rose up and slew him, his zealousness saved the day and won him the Brit of Shalom for
appeasing G-d's wrath over the impending national sexual transgression. Nonetheless, as Rabbi Levi explains,
24,000 Jews were killed in the plague, just for having had the thought and intention of whoring with daughters
of Midian.
Like Pinchas, Mattityahu, was an upholder of the Brit. As Kohen Gadol [High Priest], he was entrusted with
guarding the sexual purity of the nation, as it says regarding the Kohanim [Priests], "For they have observed
Your word and guarded your Brit" (Devarim, 33:10). Zealousness for the Torah and guarding the Brit go hand in
hand. Thus Mattityahu's cry to war was, "Let everyone who is zealous for the Torah and who guards the Brit,
follow me!"
The Zohar teaches that as long as Israel is free from sexual transgression no rival nation can rule over them.
"Rabbi Elazar said, As long as men remain attached to the Brit and do not loose their sovereignty over it, there is
no nation nor language in the world that can do them harm" (Zohar, Bereshit 66b).
This was the secret weapon of the Macabbees.
Guarding the Brit - sexual purity - was the secret weapon of the Macabbee.

As guardians of the Brit, they were raised up over the normal ways of the world. Rabbi Nachman teaches that
their valor and prowess derived from the transcendental holiness of Kedushat HaBrit [holiness of sexual purity].
Their shield in battle was their high level of sexual purity. Because they ruled over the sexual passion, they were
able to shatter the wicked kingdom that deified the gratification of sensual pleasure. Only such exalted heroes of
holiness can battle the forces of darkness and win (Likutei Halachot, Hanukah, 3:4).
This is the reason that the Torah portion of Miketz always falls on Hanukah, because it tells how Yosef, in the
merit of guarding the Brit by overcoming the temptations of Potifar's wife, rose to rule over the evil empire of
Egypt. "Because Yosef mastered his passion, the forces of evil bowed down before him, and he was made
master over the licentious land" (Ibid, 3:7).
Thus, with the cry of Mattityahu, the rebellion had started. But as holy and brave as his sons were, the
Maccabees still needed more reinforcements.
Once again, the daughters of Israel came forward to rally the men of Israel to war. Until the revolt, Jews who
remained true to the Torah had to go into hiding. If a son were born to the wife of one of these fugitives, she
would dutifully circumcise the child on the eighth day. Then she would go up on the wall of Jerusalem, carrying
her child, and leap to certain death. The act was a rallying cry, calling out to her husband and her brothers in
hiding, "If you will not go out to wage war against the enemy, you will have neither children nor wives. If you want
to save us, then emerge from your caves and wage war against the enemy until you destroy him" (See "The
Book of Our Heritage," by Rabbi Eliahu Ki Tov, the month of Kislev).
Once again, we must understand this event on its deeper level. Men are born with an orlah (foreskin). The orlah
represents the darkness of the natural world. Removing the orlah through the Jewish brit milah [circumcision] is
an act above the natural way of the world, declaring G-d's Kingship over both Heaven and earth.

Because of their allegiance to the Brit, the Hasmonean fighters were above the natural world. It didn't matter if
the Greek army had one hundred thousand soldiers or a million - the Maccabees were fighting on a totally
different spiritual and physical level that transcended normal military laws. Thus, Yehuda the Maccabee could
proclaim, "There is no difference in the sight of Heaven to save by the many or by the few. Victory in battle does
not depend on the size of the army, but rather on the valor that comes from Heaven" (Book of the Maccabees,
Part One, 3:18-19).
A brit milah is performed on the eighth day after birth. Thus the Brit is associated with the number eight. The
number eight belongs to the world above nature. The musical instrument associated with the days of Mashiach
has eight strings, unlike the seven-string harp ordinarily used in the Temple (Arachin 13B).
The Maharal of Prague teaches:
"The workings of the natural world are under the influence of the number seven, because the natural world was
created in seven days. Therefore, whatever is beyond the natural world is under the realm of the number eight.
Thus, the milah is beyond nature, since men are naturally born with an orlah, and consequently, it is performed
on the eighth day" (Ner Mitzvah, Pg. 23, "Yahadut" Edition).
As everyone knows, after the Maccabees purified the Temple, the miraculous light in the Menorah burnt for eight
days,

The Temple Menorah


symbolizing that the miracle in the Temple occurred in the merit of the Brit and its guardians who risked their lives
to defend it. The eight days of Hanukah and the eight days of the Brit share this transcendental eighth world,
which is called "Shemeni." The miracle of the Menorah came about through the cruse of undefiled oil that should
have only lasted one day. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for oil is "shemen." According to the Kabbalah, shemen
also belongs to this world of Shemeni [the 8th].
Shemen, in its function as the oil of annointment, drew Divine blessing unto the kings of Israel and the Kohen
HaGadol. Thus shemen is associated with the sefirah of Yesod, the channel that brings Divine blessing to the
world. The pure cruse of shemen (representing the Yesod), sealed with the stamp of the Kohen HaGadol (the
guardian of the Yesod) was the source of the miracle in the Temple. Since the Yesod parallels the Brit, we once
again see the centrality of sexual purity in the Hasmonean victory over the Greeks. Fittingly, the gematria
(numerical value) of the word Yesod is eighty, or "shemonim," teaching that the Yesod is also a part of the
transcendental world of "Shemeni."
Each year when we light the Hanukah lights, we are reminded that in every generation, we are called upon to
stand firm against the forces of evil which constantly seek to uproot the Jewish People from the Brit [the
covenant of sexual purity] which binds us to our G-d, our Torah, and our Land. Today, when spiritual enemies
have exported their hedonistic cultures to our shores, and when physical enemies threaten the People of Israel
from the north and the south, we should remember that it isn't the strength of the army that brings victory, but
rather the holiness with which we live our lives.

In our previous articles on the High Holy Days, we traced their connection to Tikun HaBrit, the rectification of the
covenant of sexual purity between G-d and the Jewish People. We saw that both the sounding of the shofar on
Rosh HaShana, and the service of the Kohen HaGadol on Yom Kippur are designed to cleanse the Divine
channel of illumination, the sefirah of Yesod, which becomes blocked because of our sins.
In the spiritual world of the sefirot, where man is considered the microcosm of Creation, it is the Yesod that
parallels the organ of the Brit milah. When viewed with this understanding, the High Holy Days come to help us
rectify this very fundamental aspect of our lives.

A Succah
As we approach the holiday of Succot (the Feast of Tabernacles), we will present some basic Kabbalistic
explanations of the four species, and of the succah (tabernacle), to show how the festival of Succot continues
this process of rectification.
Amongst the four species, the lulav commands center stage, not only in towering above the etrog, myrtle leaves,
and willow branches, but the blessing that we recite in performing the mitzvah is over the "waving of the lulav."
The lulav is taken from the long, straight, upper branches of the date palm. In the holy Zohar, we find that the
date palm, or tamar, represents the Tzaddik, the righteous individual who conducts his life in utmost sexual
purity, as in the case of Yosef, who was called Tzaddik, because he overcame the temptations of Potifar's wife.
To quote the Zohar:
"Rabbi Yitzhak explained the verse, "The tzaddik (righteous man) flourishes like the date palm; he grows like a
cedar in Lebanon" (Psalms, 92:13). Why is the tzaddik compared to a date palm? Just as a date palm, when cut
down, takes a long time for another to grow again, so too when the world loses a tzaddik, it takes a long time
before another rises in his place. For this same reason, the tzaddik is also compared to a cedar in Lebanon.
"Regarding, 'flourishes like a date palm,' just as a date palm does not grow (and bear fruit) unless the male be
planted by the female, so the tzaddik cannot flourish save when husband and wife are united, when the male
aspect of tzaddik, is united with the female aspect of tzaddik, as with Avraham and Sarah" (Zohar, Bereshit 82a).
The Tzaddik is associated with the sefirah of Yesod, as its says, "Tzaddik yesod olam," meaning "the Tzaddik is
the foundation of the world" (Mishle, 10:25). Thus Yosef, who guarded his sexual purity, became the earthly
channel of the Yesod to bring the blessing of G-d's bounty into the world. From this we see that the lulav, in its
spiritual connection to the sefirah of Yesod, is a powerful tool in rectify sexual transgression and drawing down
Divine goodness to mankind.

The 4 Species - Lulav branch towering above the others


Just as the Tzaddik towers over and shelters his generation, so too the lulav branch of the date palm rises above
and looks over the three accompanying species. In waving the upright, male symbol of the luluv, the embodiment
of the Yesod, we activate the female aspect of the Yesod above, drawing down Divine blessing. Accordingly, the
holiday of Succot is also known as the Festival of the Harvest, or the Ingathering, when we harvest our material
and spiritual blessings at the start of the year. The Hebrew word for "the Harvest," , has the same
numerical value as Yosef, , once again hinting at the connection between sexual purity and the bounty of the
Festival of the Harvest.
In its inner, spiritual essence, the lulav is like a healing laser beam whose light soars upward with our wavings to
the furthest reaches of Heaven, healing the damaged Yesod and releasing its life-sustaining blessings. We wave
the lulav toward the four directions of the compass, and up and down, a total of six directions, which parallels the
Yesod, the sixth of the lower sefirot. There are many Kabbalistic meanings of the lulav and its wavings that come
to remind us that our connection to G-d is directly influenced by our level of sexual purity, symbolized by the
lulav, in its mystical association to the Yesod and the organ of the Brit.
For readers who enjoy discovering the wonders hidden in the Hebrew letters, Rabbi Yekutiel Zalman Zev points
out that the lulav can to be seen to represent the letter vav. Pictorially, the letter vav is long and straight, like the
lulav and the organ corresponding to the Yesod. The letter vav has the numerical value of six, paralleling the
sixth sefirah of Yesod. By waving the lulav three times forward and three times back, for a total of six wavings,
we actualize the flow of the Yesod.
Aiming our secret spiritual weapon toward the six directions multiplies this flow of bounty into our lives. Also, it is
the letter vav in the middle of G-d's Name (shem havaya) that connects the first two letters, Yud and Hai,
representing the upper spiritual worlds, with the final letter Hai, representing our world. Once again, this hints that
the vav-lulav-Yesod represents the channel that brings Divine blessing from the upper worlds to our world ("The
Secret of Hashmal," pg. 429; see also, Tikunei Zohar, 134a).
In his halachic exegesis, the Maharil ("Laws of Lulav") notes that the first and last letters of the Torah, bet and
lamed, and the first and last letters of the Tanach, vav and lamed, make up the letters of lulav. This once again
hints that the lulav-yesod is the central axis that joins one end of our holy writings with the other, encompassing
the entire Torah.
The father of modern day Kaballah, the Arizal (1534-1572), points out that the word, lulav ( )has the same
gematria (numerical value) of 68 as the word "chaim" meaning life () . This is because of the life force that
flows from the male principle of the lulav-Yesod, to the feminine principle of Malchut, represented by the etrog,
which symbolizes the fruit of the womb (Shar HaKavanot, Succot, 5; and see also, Zohar, Pinchus, 266b). When
we raise the lulav and etrog together, we unite the male and female principles of Creation in a spiritual
unification, called Yichud.

This union of the lulav and etrog helps to rectify the spiritual blemishes caused by sexual transgressions whereby
the holy, life force of the seminal seed was not channeled from the Yesod of the husband to the Malchut of the
wife in the proper Torah fashion. Such transgressions include masturbation, pre-marital sex, forbidden familial
relations, adultery, sexual relations with gentiles, and other sexual wrongdoing.
Because this exalted unification and tikun is central to the performance of the mitzvah, the Kabbalist elder, Rabbi
Eliahu Leon Levi, stresses the importance of grasping the lulav at the bottom of its stem, and not in the middle,
so that the hands do not act as a barrier separating the upper spine of the lulav (the Yesod) from the etrog (the
Malchut). Rather, the lulav and etrog should be held together at the bottom of the four species, so that the flow
of Divine illumination from the Yesod to the Malchut, stimulated by the waving, is not interrupted.
According to the Arizal, the three hadassim represent the sefirot of Chesed, Givorah, and Tiferet. When
combined with the two aravot, symbolizing Netzach and Hod, all of the seven lower sefirot are united in a perfect
Yichud. For these reasons, before performing the mitzvah of waving the lulav, most communities recite a brief
Kabbalistic prayer stating our inner intention to unite the Holy One Blessed Be He with His Shechina, the ultimate
cosmic union.
Since the holiday of Succot is a full seven days, we will lengthen our glimpse at the esoteric significance of the
festival to mention some aspects of the Succah itself.

Succah represents Clouds of Glory. Drawing: Ohr Sameach


In the Talmud (Succah 11b), Rabbi Eliezer cites his opinion that our succah booths parallel the Clouds of Glory
that protected and nurtured our forefathers in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt. The Zohar teaches
that these Clouds which extended like pillars towering over the encampments of the Jews, embodied the allencompassing flow of Divine energy contained in the Yesod (Tikkunim 148b).
The Arizal states, (Shar HaKavanot, Succah 1), and it is recorded in the Mishna Berurah, that it is preferable to
recite the blessing over the lulav, and to wave it, inside the succah. This brings about a powerful union between
the all-encompassing aspect of the Yesod, represented by the succah, with its inner aspect, represented by the
lulav, the symbol of the spine which lies inside the body. Thus the succah becomes an electric power plant of
high-voltage spiritual energy from both within and without, generating the supreme joy and renewal of the
holiday.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook, the first chief Rabbi of Israel, writes that: "The succah inspires such
supernal joy that it cannot be a permanent dwelling, only temporary. Light waves of joy continuously flow, one
wave ascends and immediately, without pause, a second wave, brighter and more joyous than the first, descends
and spreads." (Olat Re'iyah 2, pg. 368, translation from "Celebration of the Soul" by Pesach Yaffe).
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches that this supreme, climaxing joy of the holidays, attained in the mitzvah of
succah, can only truly be experienced by the person who has rectified his sexual sins (Likutei Halachot, Laws of
Succah, 1). "After Yom Kippur, when we merited the seal of the holy Brit through the rectification of the Brit and
our prayers, immediately after this, we begin to build the succah, because the succah depends on Tikun HaBrit
because the succah represents the Clouds of Glory, and those who damaged the Brit through sexual
transgression were cast out by the Cloud."

Even though the Jews were protected by the invincible Clouds of Glory on their departure from Egypt, the evil
nation of Amalek succeeded in its unprompted attack, as the Torah records: "Remember what Amalek did to you
on the way of your leaving Egypt, how he met you (karcha) by the way and killed the hindermost of you who
were feeble in your rear" (Devarim, 25:17-18). Rashi explains the word "karcha" in its root meaning of "keri," an
impure emission of semen. Rashi relates that Amalek seduced the weaker Jews into sexual transgression, and
when the holy Cloud vomited them out, Amalek pounced on them and killed them. Only those Jews who guarded
their sexual purity were protected by the Cloud. So too, Rabbi Nachman explains, only a Jew who guards the Brit
in sexual purity can experience the transcendental joy of the succah.
May it be the will of the Almighty that with our lulavs upraised in our hands, we all be triumphant in our war
against the spirit of Amalek, which lurks in the impure cultures of the world, seeking to blemish our holiness.
Yom Kippur And Rectifying The Brit

Toward the end of his life, the renowned Jewish legal authority, the Chatam Sofer, became seriously ill, suffering
from terrible pains in the area of his Brit Milah [sexual organ]. In a letter, he disclosed his apprehension that the
suffering had come upon him because of some sin.
Reviewing his life, he did a scrupulous self-accounting, hoping to discover the cause. But he could not recall ever
having committed a sexual transgression.
Finally, he writes, he understood the reason for his suffering. He was being punished for not having taught
enough about Shmirat HaBrit, the obligation to guard the laws of sexual purity, for it was his custom to speak to
his congregation about the importance of this matter just one time a year, on the eve of Yom Kippur. The Chatam
Sofer chose that day because Yom Kippur is the paramount day of the year for Tikun HaBrit, the rectification of
sexual transgressions. In fact, according to the esoteric understandings of Torah, all of the day's prayers and
practices are directed toward rectifying this part of our lives.
The saintly Rebbe of Gur, Rabbi Yehuda Ari Leib, the "Sfat Emet," writes that while all of humanity comes before
G-d for judgment on Rosh Hashana, the holiday of Yom Kippur is exclusive to the Nation of Israel in its aspect of
Tikun HaBrit (Sfat Emet, Yom Kippur, 5656). This is because the Covenant of the Brit (sexual purity) between Gd and Avraham is unique to the Jewish People, as it says, "And G-d said to Avraham, therefore Thou shall
safeguard my Brit, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations" (Bereshit, 17:9).

Circumcision set in British Museum


The Sfat Emet states: "And regarding this matter, it is written in Pirchei D'Rebbi Eliezer' that Avraham Avinu
circumcised himself on the day of Yom Kippur." He notes that the phrase, "in the selfsame day," is mentioned in
the Torah both in reference to Avraham's circumcision (Bereshit 17:26) and Yom Kippur (Vayikra 23:28).
Also, he notes, the final Hebrew letter in each word of the phrase, "Your sins before the L-rd," [
---( ]Vayikra 16:30) referring to the confession and atonement of Yom Kippur, spell Milah, from the term for
circumcision, Brit Milah. This teaches that the removal of the orlah (foreskin,) and the removal of the spiritual
orlah caused by sexual transgression is intrinsically connected to Yom Kippur.
The Sfat Emet notes that on Yom Kippur eve, we enwrap ourselves in a tallit (prayer shawl) because the tzitzit
(fringes) hint at the importance of guarding the eyes in order to safeguard sexual purity. To substantiate this, he

cites the Talmud's recounting of an errant student who was saved from the lures of an irresistible prostitute
through the merit of his tzitzit (Menachot 44a).
"Furthermore," he writes, "Just as there is one special day in the year, Yom Kippur, to purify all of the days that
have passed, so too there is one sinew of the body, the sinew of the milah, whose purification purifies all of the
rest."
In many congregations, just prior to the Kol Nidre service, the penitential prayer, "Tefillah Zaka," is recited to help
prepare our hearts for the long day of confession ahead. The prominent theme of the prayer concerns
transgressions against the Brit. The commandment concerning the Brit includes not only the act of circumcision,
but also the requirement that a Jew conduct his sexual life in holiness. Therefore, we commence Yom Kippur by
admitting our erring ways:
"And now, my L-rd, I did not listen to Your voice, and I followed after the counsel of the evil inclination...and not
only did I not sanctify my organs and limbs, but I made them impure.... Through my evil fantasies and foreign
thoughts, I came to emit semen in vain, both by accident and knowingly, through impure seminal emissions
that pollute the whole body."
The Sfat Emet explains that Tikun HaBrit lies at the essence of the majestic ceremony of Kol Nidre. Just as
Hashem (G-d) is a purifying mikveh (ritual bath) for the Jewish People, so too is the Torah, which is completely
made up of the Names of the Blessed One Holy Be He. "Therefore," he writes, "we take out Torah scrolls at Kol
Nidre and make a confession over sins and blemishes to the sign of the holy Brit, for the written Torah and the
Covenant of the Brit are one in the same."
A thorough understanding of this concept - how the Torah and the Brit are one - is beyond the scope of this
essay. Nonetheless, the key to the secret is the recognition that both the written Torah and the Brit are identified
with the sefirah of Yesod, the spiritual channel that brings Divine Illumination into the world.
Thus, sexual sins that damaged the Yesod can be rectified through an active connection to Torah which
strengthens the Yesod.
The Kabbalistic explanations of the Hasidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, dealing with Jewish Law are
recorded in "Likutei Halachot," written by his foremost student, Rabbi Natan. Citing many of the same
observations as the "Sfat Emet," he elaborates on the inner connection between Yom Kippur and the rectification
of sexual sins (Laws of Yom Kippur, 1).
He also explains that the Tikun HaBrit of Yom Kippur is the encompassing tikun, what he calls the "Tikun
HaClalli" because the sexual lust is the father of all of man's desires. Furthermore, because the organ of the Brit
is associated with the sefirah of Yesod, the foundation of all of the sefirot (Divine illuminations), in atoning for
sexual transgressions, a person rectifies his entire spiritual blueprint.

Breslov Yeshiva, Jerusalem


Rabbi Nachman teaches that Yom Kippur became the Day of Atonement precisely because it was the day that
Avraham Avinu circumcised himself, marking the first time that a man purged himself from the husk of the impure
orlah (foreskin) which acts to separate a man from His Maker. This revolutionary act of Avraham Avinu is what
endowed the day with the power to cleanse the sins of the Jewish People at Sinai.
Following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe ascended Mt. Sinai for 40 days to ask forgiveness from Hashem.
Rabbi Nachman continues the same theme: "For the forgiveness that Moshe won for the Jews was actually over

transgressions to the Brit, for the sin of the Golden Calf was over sexual misconduct, as our Sages have taught
us - the Jewish People only worshiped idols to provide an excuse for publicly engaging in sexual licentiousness"
(Sanhedrin 63A; Rashi, Shemot, 32:6). "This rectification of the Brit made this day, the Day of Atonement for all
generations."
Rabbi Nachman explains that all of the service of the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) on Yom Kippur was a
national Tikun HaBrit. Precisely because the Kohen HaGadol had to separate himself from forbidden
relationships more than any other Jew, he was entrusted with the task of seeking atonement for the nation on
Yom Kippur.
His exalted holiness came from safeguarding his sexual purity, the reason he was kept awake all night in order to
avoid a nocturnal emission which would nullify him for service. "This is also the reason why the Kohen HaGadol
was anointed with the special Oil of Anointing, which endowed him with supreme spiritual knowledge (Daat)
which only comes through the holiness of safeguarding one's sexual purity embodied in Tikun HaBrit. For all of
the Kohen HaGadol's service on Yom Kippur, and the atonement of the nation, was dependent upon this
transcendent holiness and Daat."
This demand for absolute sexual purity was also the inner reason that the Kohen HaGadol had to be married.
"For a person who isn't married is considered to have sexual blemishes. This is the reason that the deaths of
Aharon's sons are mentioned in the Yom Kippur Torah reading, for their sin in entering the Holy of Holies was in
not being married, for only one who has achieved Tikun HaBrit in wholeness can bring down the exalted Daat"
(Ibid).
This is also the meaning of the verse which depicts the Yom Kippur service, "With this ( ) Aharon shall enter
the Holy of Holies," (Vayikra 16:3) with this absolute sexual holiness of Tikun HaBrit. Use of the same term "zot"
regarding the brit strengthens the analogy: "This (zot)is the Brit that you must guard" (Bereshit 17:10). In light of
these understandings, it is clear why we read the Torah portion dealing with forbidden sexual relations on Yom
Kippur, in its aspect of Tikun HaBrit.
"Therefore," Rabbi Nachman continues, "It was on Yom Kippur that Moshe brought the Torah to the Jewish
People, because the foundation of receiving the Torah is Tikun HaBrit. And for this reason six people are called
to read from the Torah on Yom Kippur, because the number six represents Tikun HaBrit (the sefirah of Yesod, the
sixth of the lower sefirot-channels). And marital relations are also forbidden on Yom Kippur in order to merit
receiving the Torah, just as Moshe was separated from all things, and in this manner, we merit atonement,
through the holiness of the Brit."
Studying the teachings of Rabbi Nachman, one realizes that everything on Yom Kippur has to do with Tikun
HaBrit. For instance, "All of the sacrifices in the Temple on that day were for the rectification of sexual
transgressions, in order to subdue the animal drives that bring about sexual sin, as the holy Zohar states:
Don't be like a horse or a mule that have no understanding'" (Zohar, Vayikra 49b).
What distinguishes man from a beast is his intellect (Daat,) and as we have learned, the illumination of Daat can
only be attained through Tikun HaBrit. For this very same reason, we fast on Yom Kippur, in order to conquer
our animal lusts. And, Rabbi Nachman explains, "This is why wearing leather shoes is forbidden, just as Moshe
was told to remove his shoes before approaching the Burning Bush, to symbolize the need to detach himself
from physicality and its lusts."
As might be expected, the final Yom Kippur prayer, Neila, is also filled with significance. Just as Neila seals the
day and its forgiving decree, so too is the sign of the Brit considered the seal of the King. Thus, the Neila prayer
comes to certify with its stamp of finality that the Tikun HaBrit is complete.
If all of these insights are true, (and who are we to doubt the Torah wisdom of Rabbi Nachman, the Sfat Emet,
and the Chatam Sofer,) then why have the majority of us never been taught all of these exalted matters?
Perhaps the most diplomatic answer is to be found in the teaching of Kohelet that to everything there is a time
(Kohelet, 3:1). In our age of wanton sexual transgression, the time has certainly come.

The Goal Of The Holidays


According to the Kabbalah, one of the main themes of the upcoming High Holidays is Tikun HaBrit, the
rectification and renewal of the Covenant (Brit) between G-d and the Jewish People.

The Yesod is associated with the sexual organ


Kabbalists emphasize the great importance of this rectification for our times, since we are now in the Hebrew
calendar's Sixth Millenium, which parallels the sefirah (Divine Radiance) of the Yesod, associated with the Brit.
The Yesod is the spiritual channel that brings Divine Illumination (shefa) and blessing into the world. In the
Kabbalistic blueprint that pictures man as the microcosm of the universe, the Yesod is directly associated with
the male sexual organ commonly referred to as the Brit.
Our transgressions, particularly our sexual transgressions, damage this channel and cut us off from Divine
bounty and goodness. When transgressions multiply, G-d forbid, this spiritual descent can clog up the channel of
blessing completely, and bring about both personal and national hardship.
Furthermore, since the channel to G-d, the Yesod , has been blocked because of transgression, we are
estranged from a vibrant connection to G-d, leaving our prayers unanswered. Since sexual promiscuity is so
prevalent in our times, Kabbalists stress that Tikun HaBrit, the work of rectifying the Yesod, is of paramount
importance. Thus, according to the secrets of Torah, one of the prime goals of the Jewish Holidays at the start of
the year is to reopen the channel of Divine blessing, the Yesod, which we damaged because of our sins.
Even though the Kabbalistic secrets of these matters cannot be fully explained in an Internet article that can be
accessed by readers of all ages, Torah levels, and faiths, we will see that the shofar, like the High Priest on Yom
Kippur, acts to unite the Jewish People and G-d by activating the sefirah of Yesod, the spiritual channel that
brings Divine blessing to our nation and to the world.

The Call of the Shofar


The Zohar, the basic work of the Kabbalah, associates the shofar with the sefirah (Divine Channel) of Yesod.
According to the Zohar's author, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the sound of the shofar rises to transcendental
spiritual worlds via angels, as it says, For the birds of heaven will raise up the voice (Kohelet, 10:20). The
numerical equivalent (gematria) of For the birds of heaven, [Ki off hashamayim] equals that of the word shofar.
In Kabbalistic terminology, the expression birds of heaven refers to the sefirah of Yesod (Tikunei Zohar, 131b).
The Yesod influences our world by drawing down celestial blessing.
For this reason, Yosef, who provided material sustenance for the Jews in Egypt, and for all of the world, is known
as Yosef HaMashbir, the provider of sustenance. The Zohar explains that he merited this status because of his

exalted sexual purity in being careful not to blemish the sefirah of Yesod by refusing to have relations with
Potifars wife who tried to seduce him (Zohar, Bereshit 197a). The blowing of the shofar comes to cleanse the
Yesod, to blast away at the pollution caused by our sins, and reopen the channel, so that our prayers can ascend
and awaken the flow of Divine Illumination from Above, which provides for all of our needs.
In his book, Secret of Hashmal, the Kabbalist scholar, Rabbi Yekutiel Zalman Zev, explains this process of
spiritual rectification:
The Talmud states that all of a persons sustenance is apportioned to him on the Jewish New Year, Rosh
Hashana (Talmud Betza 16a). According to the Zohar, sustenance stems from the Divine Illumination that
emanates from an exalted spiritual world called ratzone, as in the Psalms, You open Your hand, and every
living thing You satisfy its desire-ratzone (Tehillim 145:16; Zohar, Beshalach 62a).
Because Rosh HaShana is the Day of Judgment, on this day, the attribute of strict justice reigns supreme. Based
on the paucity of our deeds, we cannot depend on our merit alone to defend us when the book of our lives lays
open before the Celestial Tribunal. Therefore, we need something that will allow us to transcend the level of strict
justice and enable us to release the flow of shefa (Divine Illumination) that will grant us sustenance for the
upcoming year. We need a spiritual battering ram that will shatter all barriers and penetrate to the exalted world
of Divine ratzone that transcends the world of judgment.

The Shofar
This is the shofar.
Because of its power to cleanse and rectify the channel of the Yesod, its call is heard in the most exalted worlds,
high above strict judgment, to the exalted sphere where G-ds kindness and mercy reign. In this way, the shofar
draws down the Divine Illumination that was blocked because of our sins. Thus we recite before blowing the
shofar, Rise Elokim (the attribute of judgment) with the truah (blast); the L-rd (attribute of mercy) with the sound
of the shofar (Tehillim, 47:5).

The Yesod and Yom Hazicharon


This supernatural aspect of the shofar can also be seen in the Torah and Haftorah selections of Rosh HaShana,
describing Sarah and Hannas miraculous pregnancies. The Talmud teaches that Sarah, Rachel, and Hanna
were all Divinely granted children on Rosh HaShana (Talmud Rosh HaShana 10b). Sarah didnt even have a
womb (Talmud Yevamot 64b). Their pregnancies were beyond the laws of nature.
We reach this transcendental level through the blast of the shofar in order to

remind G-d of the merit of our forefathers and bring down the Divine Influx that we would otherwise be denied.
Interestingly, Rabbi Zev notes that the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew words And He remembered [Sarah],
(pakad et) (Genesis 21:1) equals the numerical value of shofar.

The outstanding feature of the Rosh HaShana prayer is the order of Malchiyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot sections.

The Talmud states that we recite Zichronot, In order that your remembrances (Zichronot) will ascend before Me
for blessing. And how is this brought about? Through the shofar. (Talmud Rosh HaShana 16a). Our verses of
Zichronot rise before the Almighty and awaken the flow of Divine blessing. This comes about once again through
the power of the shofar in its aspect of Yesod, the channel of Divine Illumination. The Hebrew word for
remembrances, zichronot, comes from the root word, zachar, which also means male, a synonym for the
Yesod. Thus the shofar paves the way for the zichronot to open the channel of blessing.

Shofar and The High Priest

The High Priest


The Talmud equates the sounding of the shofar with the service of the Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) in the Holy
of Holies on Yom Kippur (Talmud Yoma 53b). Like the shofar, the Kohen HaGadol, the paragon of sexual purity,
represents the Yesod, in his role of activating the flow of shefa from Above.
Just as the blasts of the shofar awaken the people of Israel to repentance, and draw down sustenance and
blessing, so too the prayers of the Kohen HaGadol atone for the transgressions of the nation and draw down the
life-sustaining blessings of rainfall and sustenance for the year. In Kabbalistic terms, both the shofar and the
Kohen HaGadol bring about a yichud, or unification, between G-d and the Jewish People.
This exalted unification finds expression in the teaching of the Talmud that whenever Zichronot are recited,
Malchiyot are to be recited with them (Talmud Rosh HaShana 32a). Activated by the blasts of the shofer, the
Zichronot influence the male principle of Yesod to give forth its shefa to the receiving, female principle of
Malchiyot, our world. This reopening of the flow of Divine Illumination also marks the renewal of the Brit on Rosh
HaShana, and thus we conclude the order of Zichronot with, Blessed are Thou, O L-rd, who remembers the
Brit.
This coming week, may the blasts of the shofar awaken Divine favor and herald the immanent coming of
Mashiach (the Messiah) and the complete redemption for the Jewish People and all of the world.