"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The source of Jewish souls in the letters of Torah

The source of Jewish souls in the letters of Torah
Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver

(This is a continuation of the posts herehere, and here.)

The Jewish souls’ origin in Torah is also related to the letters in a Sefer Torah, which also number 600,000. Thus, the name “ישראל” is an acronym[1] for “יש ששים רבוא אותיות לתורה.”

The Neshamah of every single Jew stems from his or her corresponding letter in the Sefer Torah, which originates from the source of his or her soul in Torah above.

The Alter Rebbe asks:[2] Aren’t there far fewer letters in the Sefer Torah (to be precise, there are 304,805 letters)? He answers that the number of 600,000 includes the unwritten vowel sounds, each of which indicates a letter. For example, a komatz is an alef, a chirik is a yud, a cholam is a vav, and so on. However, we do not know exactly how to calculate which vowels are counted as letters in order to reach the number of 600,000.[3]

The Rebbe Rashab explains[4] that there are two kinds of letters: Letters of thought and letters of speech. When one thinks, one also uses letters, but these letters are far more abstract and spiritual than letters that come down in the relatively coarse medium of speech.

Likewise, the letters of Torah exist on both these levels: The letters of a physical Sefer Torah are comparable to Hashem’s letters of speech. But at the level of Chochmah of Atzilus, the Torah exists in the form of letters of thought. The Hebrew vowel sounds (Nekudos) are not necessarily written, but they allude to letters that one thinks. Thus, letters of thought include the more rarefied letters that relate to the Nekudos. And so on the level that Torah exists in Hashem’s thought, as it were, there are far more letters—altogether, 600,000. And since “The Jewish people arose in Hashem’s thought”[5]; i.e., the Jewish people stem from the level of Torah as it exists in Hashem’s thought, as it were, therefore the Jewish souls also number 600,000.

Moreover, just as thoughts are united with the thinker, so is a Jew united with Hashem by connecting with His thought. To explain, letters of thought are far more united with the soul than letters of speech; thus, although both thought and speech are referred to mere garments of the soul and not its essence, thought is called a “united garment,” while speech is referred to as a “separate garment.” Likewise, “The Torah binds the Jewish people with Hashem”[6] because the Jewish soul is rooted in the level of Hashem’s thought, which is united with Hashem in a far more complete way than the rest of the creations, which stem from Hashem’s speech, as it were.

[1] Megaleh Amukos 186.
[2] Likkutei Torah Behar 41b, 43d.
[3] See the commentary of the P’nei Yehoshua on Kiddushin 30a, for additional solutions.
[4] Sefer HaMa’amarim 5663-5664, p. 309. Ibid., p. 131. Cf. ibid., p. 368.
[5] Bereshis Rabba 1:4.
[6] Zohar 3:73b.

This post was dedicated by Shmuli Markel and family (Shmuel Leib ben Esther and Sara Rochel bas Chaye Nechomoh), and by Yisroel Meir Raphael and family. Also dedicated by Yosef ben Chaim Goldenberg, now in the US Army; may Hashem continue to watch over him with many blessings and for a safe and healthy return to his family from Afghanistan.

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