Skip to main content

Charles Mopsik – The Network Of Souls In Qabbalah

Charles Mopsik

Picture by Marc Attali


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is a substantial study by Charles Mopsik excerpted from ‘Chemins de la Cabale, vingt-cinq études sur la mystique Juive’, Editions de l’Eclat in 2004. It stands as number 11 in the index of the book shown below. The study runs from page 148 to 159. A Via-HYGEIA English translation from the original French.

After the intimate sohbet of a sufi tekke and the benevolent spiritual counselling of luminaries such as Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi or Azzizuddin Nasafi, we are now invited into the intimacy of a very special yeshiva Charles Mopsik has set up, so to witness a surprising a-typical conversation about the soul around a blessed table where have gathered great beacons of light such as Moses of Leon, Meir ben Ezekiel ibn Gabbai, Joseph of Hamadan, Moses Cordovero, Eliyahu De Vidas, Hayyim Vital, Isaac Louria and Elijah Benamosegh!

We offer you, dear reader, this soothing therapeutic balm, generously offered to us by the late Charles Mopsik, as a gift to lighten our endemic suffering in these painful times of creeping spiritual poverty and lethal value inversion. We have added two paintings by Rivesaltes based arcane artist Ben Gross, particularly fitting to grace this seminal contribution to the field of qabbalistic studies.


2016 artwork by Ben Gross

When in an every day conversation we use the word, ‘soul’, the first image that comes to mind is of a mysterious entity that inhabits the body, a sort of double of the individual physical form, invisible and ghostly, that survives death, being the seat of consciousness and sometimes, the seat of emotions (see note 1). What is still perceived nowadays as the most intimate part of the self still has many more attributions in the philosophical and religious literature. We will examine a conception of the soul that has been developed by the qabbalists of the Middle Age and then by their successors of the modern time. Starting with this verse from Genesis 2:7. According to it, ‘God blew in the nostril of Man a breath of life‘, generations of interpreters tried to understand the nature of this ‘breath of life’ (nichmat), quickly identified with the soul (neshamah) that animates the body and vivifies it from within.

A brief survey of the most diverse contexts where the word soul (or its equivalents) is used, shows us that this notion has deployed itself in a polysemic manner. It is thus a question, in the qabbalistic literature, of the soul of God (in opposition to the sephirot, the emanations assimilated to the body, see note 2), of the soul of the Torah (its esoteric meaning, in opposition to its body which is its level of exoteric and juridical expression), of soul of the letters (the vowels, by opposition to the mute and lifeless consonants, when they are left alone), and of course, of the soul of Man – of the soul of man & woman, to be specific, because only the human couple possesses a complete soul, while celibate individuals only embody half of a soul (see note 3).

The qabbalists have insisted upon the vanity of all questions pertaining to the ‘essence‘ of the soul. Likewise, we cannot know what ‘is‘ God, our knowledge reaches its limits when we ask ourselves what ‘is‘ the soul. Hence, Moses of Leon, a Castillan qabbalist of the second part of the thirteenth century, writes:

But the soul of Man, the one named ‘intellectual soul’, nobody knows how to perceive anything from it. It enjoys a status of void, as it is said: ‘the superiority of Man over the animal is nil.’ (Ecclesiast. 3:19), because through this soul Man possesses a superiority upon all other creatures and this super-eminence which it conceals is this thing called ‘void’. Therefore, nobody knows nothing about this souls, due to the unfathomable and inaccessible realities it harbors, and to a greater level, it is the same with the occultation of this Place (the first emanation called Crown) that the beings from above and those from below cannot reach when they seek it (see note 4).

This unfathomable character of the human soul, located at the level of void (Ayin), unknowable source of all knowledge, ‘ray of darkness‘, would say the Pseudo-Denys, is certainly the mark of its eminence but it forces us to seek into another direction within the discourses of the qabbalists, the elements that would enable us to shed some light, if not its ‘essence‘, at least upon its main characteristics and upon the specific role it serves at the heart of the cosmos.

In the following lines we would like to highlight what appears to us to be the main function of the soul in the texts of Jewish mysticism. Far from representing a sort of spiritual substrate of frozen bodies in a marmorean eternity, the soul is essentially perceived as a transmission-belt, a knot of transmission between all of the elements of the cosmos, a cross-road of inter-actions of existentiating fluxes rising from below (from the actions of Man, and of those who descend from above, divine worlds), channel through which the prophetical messages transit, the supernatural visions and the voice of the ancient master. In the human soul all of the components of the universe condense and intertwine themselves, as Meir ben Ezekiel ibn Gabbai, a qabbalist of the XVIth century shows:

Know that Man was made at the image of the structure of all the degrees of organization of the cosmos, and the soul that dwells in him and that nurtures him in this life during a determined time is constituted and composed of supreme esseities (see note 5).  As long that the soul dwells in him, he ressembles to the macrocosm, this is why Man is called microcosmos (see note 6)‘.

Starting from this rather classical motive of the ‘concatenation‘ (Via-Hygeia note: A series of links united; a series or order of things depending on each other, as if linked together; a chain, a succession) of the worlds within the human soul, the qabbalists have elaborated a theory of the soul where it is not merely the passive mirror of the structure of the cosmos, but the active and determining center of exchanges on all its levels. We will now focus upon a specific perspective to approach the soul that is very different from what the great religions have accustomed us to understand about it.

At the opposite of the common acceptation of the word, soul here it means first the rooting of individuals into a collective, at the same time historical and spiritual, of which if is but a branch. It is even the very presence in the body of the collective made of all humans, at least those who share the same genealogical links. Through his soul, Man sinks deep his roots  into the ‘chain of likeliness‘, according to the favorite expression of Joseph of Hamadan, a Castillan from the end of the XIIIth century, a chain that  goes back to the divinity, at the image of which Man was shaped. This collection of all of the souls constitute what the author of the ‘Zohar’ (‘The book of splendor‘, Castille, XIIIth century) calls ‘the Garland of the Living‘, symbol of the ultimate dimension of the divine world. The sefira Malkhut (Kingship), also called Shekinah (the divine Dwelling or Presence). The souls pre-exist to the birth into bodies, where they last only a brief moment, and they pursue their adventure in other bodies after showing up once here. They are linked between themselves through family ties, so much that we can talk of a historical genealogy of bodies. This is why, for instance, that Joseph of Hamedan or the ‘Tikunei ha-Zohar’, explains the affinities between Moses & Jethro by invoking the origin of their souls, which were those of Abel & Cain, or that Moses Cordovero & Elias De Vidas, explaining that by the nature of their souls they were those of Chemaya & Abtalion, masters forming the ancient di-umvirate of the first generations of rabbis at the end of the Antiquity (see note 8).

The wall of history is transparent to the souls that cross it joyfully. It is also the case, of course, of the veil of heaven: between the living and the dead, comprising those of the most remote times, there is no ditch, no oblivion, no distance (see note 9). Some qabbalists have even put together a practical process so to re-establish communication between the prestigious masters of the past – the Tannaim of the 1st and 2nd centuries – the only ones able to transmit the deepest and unreachable secrets of the Torah. The books the ancient passed on like the ‘Michnah’, a collection of oral traditions written down in Judea in the 2nd century, that encapsulates the soul of their teaching and identifies their persons as if they were a human manifestation of divine reality. (Via-Hygeia note: A collection of rabbinic traditions, a method of teaching by presenting topics in a systematic order, as contrasted with Midrash, which follows the order of the Torah, see note 10). This is how, rabbi Hayyim Vital, who wrote in the city of Safed towards the end of the XVIth century, proposes some concrete means to establish contact with the soul of the great masters of the past:

Collect yourself alone in a house, cover yourself with a prayer shawl (tallit), sit down and close the eyes. Strip yourself of matter like if your soul had departed your body and had risen up to heaven. After reaching bareness, read any michnah, any one you chose, and read aloud it many times; everytime starting one just right you finished one, as quickly as you can, take care to duly articulate every words, without omitting any. Focus in such a way that your soul bonds to the soul of the master invoked in this very michnah. You can do this by representing your mouth as an instrument that expresses the letters of the text, and that the sounds that you utter out by the artifice of your mouth are the sparkles of your inner soul that gush out and read it, and that it becomes a vehicle in which the soul of this ancient master-the author of this michnah-slips in, and that his soul has shrouded your soul. When you will get tired to read the text, if you are able, it is possible that in your mouth the soul of this ancient master settles in, and that it will wear it during your reading. Then, while you are carrying on this reading, he will speak through your mouth and will give you his greetings. And any question you will ask him by the mind, he will answer. He will talk through your mouth and your ears will hear his words. It will not be you speaking to yourself, but he will. It is the secret of the verse: ‘The spirit of YHVH spoke in me and his speech was upon my tongue.'(II Samuel 23:20). If you are not able to access this high degree, it is possible that something else happens. In fact, because of the rapid  movements of your mouth, you will be tired and will be silent again, and without even noticing it, you will start to drowse, sleeping without sleeping. In this half-sleep, you will notice that your questions are being answered, either in an allusive manner or in a clear form, according to your level of preparation. But if you are not to succeed in these two hastened experiences, it means that you are not ready yet, or that you have not managed to get rid enough of your materiality“. (note 11).

What will remain our main focus in this text, is less the more or less technical process of repetition of excerpts of the michnah, ment to induce a modified state of consciousness proper to provoke a contact with the soul of a diseased master, but more the insistance upon the fusion-able relationship between two distinctive souls of people very remote from each other in time.  The souls of the prophets, of saints and masters of the tradition are in a constant state of communion, whatever epoch in history when they manifested, the practical process described above is but a mean to reveal this communion and to actualize it in the memory of the mystic, so that he may receive a teaching in a conscious and voluntary manner. The Safed qabbalists, and rabbi Hayyim Vital in particular, were very mindful of the genealogy of their soul. Hence, they approached the greatest among them, Isaac Louria, also called the Lion of Safed, to benefit from his visionary gifts and learn from his mouth to which lineage of biblical characters, of prophets, of ancient masters, their soul belonged to (see note 12).  As if the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, of which they were for most of them citizens, had erased or weakened the souvenir of their own historical genealogy and they had to resort after to the exploration of the genealogical tree of their souls to restore a precise place for their identity to exist within the generational chain of the community of Israel. But, it would be a mistake to believe that this is a late innovation in the history of Jewish mysticism. This aptitude of the souls to unite temporarily in a same body had been alluded in the ‘Zohar‘. It comments, while doing the exegesis of a verse of the ‘Song of Songs‘, ‘The buds appear upon the earth‘ (2:13): ‘the ‘buds‘ are the patriarchs. Once they arrived to the divine Mind, they at once have integrated the world to come, that kept them in secret. Then, still secretly, they left to hide in the company of the prophets of truth. Joseph was born and they took refuge in him. When he had reached the holy land, he introduced them into; from that time, they appear on earth and reveal themselves there. Who does hold the world and allows the patriarchs to be revealed? The voice of children that are studying the Torah. (Zohar I, Ib).

In the same perspective, according to the ‘Tikunei ha-Zohar’, the soul of Adam came into Moses, who was his perfect vehicle (Folio 113d), and then, in turn, the soul of Moses ‘has deployed itself at each generation and at the heart of every Just‘, so well that it finally shrouds the entire humanity up to the proportion of 600.000 Israelites, symbolic number of his plenitude (ibidem 114a). Moreover, all the souls of the qabbalists (identified to the ‘Maskilim’ or the ‘wise‘ in Daniel 12:3) present, past and future, are ‘inscribed and engraved at the heart of the Kingdom of heaven alike the stars that shine in the firmament‘, came to associate themselves to the composition of the ‘Tikunei ha-Zohar’ and had revealed secrets that were forbidden to disclose before (ibidem, folio Ia-b). It is even possible that also, when Moses of Leon, the presumed author of the ‘Zohar‘, quotes verse 23:20 of II Samuel: ‘The spirit of YHVH was talking in me and His speech was upon my tongue‘, at the very beginning of his work devoted to the reasons of the Commandments (see note 13), to indicate the motive that has led him to write this book, ‘this spirit of God who talked in him was no other that a designation of the soul of the ancient masters who spoke through his mouth and dictated him the teaching he was writing down in the ‘Zohar‘, as the quote above of the same verse in the excerpt shared earlier from Hayyim Vital‘s book would suggest. I do not feel it would be legitimate to establish a distinction between mystical and prophetic experience. What the historian of qabbalah modestly calls ‘mystical experience‘ is considered and named by the qabbalists ‘reception of the Holy Spirit‘, or of the ‘Prophetic Breath‘. It was for them an endeavor to restore the contact with the divine and its Word; the biblical prophets are for them models to imitate and not figures belonging to a forlorn past.

The ‘communicating’ function given to the soul lies at the very center of the prophetical activity, as the qabbalists understand it, and it is an underlining concept in the long run of their literary and hermeneutical work consisting in writing down ‘the secrets of the Torah‘ and to explain its verses according to its esoteric meaning. We are going to see further-on the intersection of the souls & the fact that they recapitulate and make all of the worlds communicate, conferring them also an essential role in the cosmic & theurgical process of restoration of universal harmony.

One of the greatest qabbalists of all time, Moses Cordovero (1522-1570), who also lived in Safed, develops in a very detailed manner the nodal nature and the ‘connective’ function of the human soul, conceived as a substantial fragment of the divinity:

It has been explained in the preceding chapter that Man is a part of the divinity from above, if he is pure and that his actions are just, he is taken by ‘bonds of love’ (Hosea 11:4), in the roots of sainthood, by its soul that crosses all the worlds and degrees. Hence, when he acts justly and targets with his thoughts, correctly orientated through the levels, to unite the degrees, these ‘knots corresponding to each other’ (Exodus 2:5) will attach, and his soul will wear His soul, part by parts, a candlestick made of spare parts (see note 14). Then, necessarily the sephirot through its agency will unite and link each other with a solid bond, and he will be, through his soul, a channel in which the sephirot will spread forth, from the first to the last, due to the solid string that binds them. Because, when his soul unites with His soul through his studies (see note 15), the result is that the roots stay linked between themselves by a strong bond. This is how we will understand why what a person has damaged, no other soul can repair; a repair is only possible if that person repents, now or in a posterior migration, and that the string has been restored by him/herself exclusively (see note 16).

We will propose upon this subject an excellent parabola. Let’s imagine that there is a beautiful torrent, large like the large beams of an olive press. Upstream of this torrent, there are multiple sources, all as tenuous as  the internal channel of a syringe; but, when they all gather, they form a great deep water river. Suddenly, somebody appears and obstructs one of those delicately outflowing tiny sources. Will he not reduce, consequently the outflow of the torrent proportionally with the source? Understand that the great torrent represents the strong outflow that spreads throughout the universe, and that the tenuous channels represent the situation of the souls that are like small flames rising, while at the same time, occulting themselves within their sources in all the sephirot and thanks to them the union, the linking and the spreading of the latter is produced. When the sinner stumbles and tears away his subtile presence from one of the degrees (of the pleroma), according to the length of the sin-if it is serious, he will tear it from a superior degree; if it is venial, a minor sin, he will tear it from a lower degree-will he not reduce the good and the outflow spreading through the channel of his soul, because he would have obstructed this channel and would have cut it from (the totality of the pleroma), as we have explained earlier? Perhaps that, among all of the tenuous channels left, one of them would be able to repair what has damaged the broken channel? But here comes something important: Nothing will be able to repair it. On the opposite, all channels bear the damage and suffer a deterioration. Until then, each of the tenuous channels comprised within themselves 600.000 channels, according to the number of souls, now (see note 17), there are only 600.000 minus one left; consequently all only comprise 600.000 minus one-the missing part having been damaged.

Therefore, it is clear that the siner has damaged his own person and at the same time other people’s person too (see note 18). It is not because we have called them all ‘channels’ that they are all alike, because in this case there are many distinctions. When a just man fulfils a commandment, it causes in him an outflow at the measure of this commandment and of its retribution, and he amplifies the outpouring of this channel whose light and flow grows and increases. And when for a man the Torah is his work, the amplification of this influx  never ceases. This exposition is explained in a quite biting summary in the Tiqounim, 22, folio 66a: ‘Place me like a seal upon your heart (Song of Songs, 8:6). It is about the soul that is engraved upon the Throne. When it wakes up by the prayer from below, the Throne wakes up above, etc.‘(See note 19). Due to the likeliness and the image of his soul are engraved upon the Throne, necessarily, due to his prayers and his good actions, his soul wakes up and wakes up the Throne itself. It is, obviously, a great proof of our affirmations. When a loyal man sins, his penance is greater than if it would be any rascal, because he rose up through his deeds at the level of the roots to a high level, and he manifested marvels through the influence he had, to the point that the volume of the great part of the dried-out channels depended upon him. Because it is about the amount and length of his good deeds (hassidout) that the volume of the channel grows through the soul, like we have explained earlier. And when he sins and becomes guilty – may God prevents this – he brutally reduces this out-flow and the world remains obscure because of him. Therefore, God’s anger ignites against him up to the point of killing him – may God prevents this too – until he repents and that he repairs what he has damaged.” (Pardes Rimonim, Gate 32, chapter I, folio 75a-b).

The original seat of the soul is not the human body, but the tenth sefira, Malkhut (Kingship), into which all soul are ‘engraved‘ and substantially communicate between each other. Each of them is a ‘channel‘ through which transit the existentiating influxes that nourishes with being the divine world. But this channel, which crosses all the ontological degrees separating the sephirotic pleroma from the material world, is itself composed of 600.000 filiform channels, recapitulating the whole of the souls born or to be born in our world.

Therefore, each comprising all of the others, the souls form an inter-connected totality; a totality that is no other than the Shekinah Herself, the tenth rung of the structure of the emanations. But each soul is also, under a singular mode, the totality of the divine pleroma. The destiny of each soul weights upon the fate of all the others and upon the divinity Itself, which is in Its manifested and immanent dimension, the synthesis of all these ‘channels’, the ‘torrent’ where the totality of the influxes that each of them bring along are exchanged. Some of these elite souls are able to set ablaze, more completely than others, the structure of the totality of the pneumatical channels, by rooting more deeper in the higher degrees, their ‘superior’ source at the heart of the divine world. Their activity therefore do have an impact and more significant repercussions that seriously affects the totality they are intimately united to and that they carry within them. The initial formula according to which the soul is ‘a part of the divinity above‘ is developed bearing a very concrete meaning and should not to be taken in a symbolic or metaphorical manner.

Moses Cordovero‘s descriptive effort aims to report in a very detailed way and in structural manner the organisation of the interactions between the divine world and the world of the souls, that are not only linked through information exchange but also and especially through substances exchange.

If we prefer the use of a more modern image, each soul can be compared to a neuron from which synapses would depart in all directions, connecting it with all the other neurons. From their harmonious interactions the healthy functioning of the whole ensues. In this matter, what is taken as a ‘brain‘ is the ‘divinity above‘, or the divine ‘Throne‘, which is the Malkhut sefira that manages the universe, being at the same time very affected, in good or bad, by the activity of each of these inter-connected and inter-dependant components: the 600.000 souls. Moreover than the virtuous actions, by excellence the intellectual activity, the study of the Torah (itself identified in other paragraphs to a network of signs coding the totality of the divine pleroma – see note 20) is of a nature to ‘awaken‘ every soul, to stimulate its connections with the totality of the souls, and in doing that, to drain an uninterrupted flux of ontic substance, which coming from the Infinite, will fill the divine world and will overflow upon the totality of the souls, its ultimate dimension.

The amplification of the flow of these ‘channels’ that the souls constitute is the aim of the commandments of the Law and its daily study. Of the magnitude of this flow depends the evolution of the universe. The amount of spiritual energy exchanged between the souls and the divine pleroma is the essential factor of the cohesion of the emanation system (the solid link Cordovero speaks about), because this ‘spiritual energy‘ does not keep well and must be renewed in a permanent manner; on the opposite, a ‘damage‘ reaches the whole network of the pleroma, and this ‘debility‘ that affects it is noticeable on all levels of the cosmos and first of all by the divinity Itself. Some qabbalists even went on to say that this ‘damage‘ would retract in the depth of the Void (see note 21). But what was damaged can and must be repaired.

The great lesson that Moses Cordovero draws from his exposition is that each soul is irreplaceable and that the action of any other cannot be substituted to hers, even though some elite souls are able to drain a quantity of greater influx than others. When a soul ceases to perform its function as a channel in the vast communication network composed of all of the souls, this obstruction in a specific region provokes a diminishing of the outflow of the whole structure, weakens the cohesion of the system and threatens its integrity. Only she (the soul) will be able to remedy, by restoring its mediating activity, to this disruption of the collective harmony. Paradoxically, the inter-connection of the souls, their substantial interweaving into a functioning whole, that operates at the same time dynamic & turbulent, not only does not lessen the importance of the personality of each, but, implies a valorisation of the work of each one of them in particular. But this paradox is only apparent. The organization and the evolution of the divine world and of the network of the souls are not ruled by rules of functioning strictly deterministic. As being a part of ‘the divinity above‘, each soul has at its disposal a free will that gives it the possibility to break the chain of causality, or as qabbalist Elijah Benamosegh (Italy, end of the XIXth century) says: “Freedom is such at the condition to actually interfere into the chain of natural causes and effects and to be able to break up its continuity. Freedom is a permanent miracle, or it is not a thing.” (See note 22) Each soul disposes of a freedom of its own that weakens the pleromical organization in which it is inserted; because of this, it makes the totality dependent of the part as it subjects the divine Presence (the Shekhinah) to the personal will of each. But the divine Presence and the divine world itself through its ten emanations (the Sefirot) do not have other reason of existence than to make possible the creation of a bond freely consentent, an undertaking of the parts between themselves & of each of them with their totality.

Another consequence of Moses Cordovero‘s exposition is that there is simultaneously between the souls a separation between themselves and an entanglement of all in each & every individual soul with all the others: the ‘other‘ is not elsewhere and it is not the elsewhere of the same; it is in it, present in its substance, dependent of it and living inside of it, and at the same time irreducibly irreplaceable and different. But for the ethical & philosophical implications of this ‘orchestration of the souls‘ type described earlier above by Moses Cordovero, we invite someone else to develop it, as we would trespass the defined limits of this present study.

Though, let us note that the souls of human beings and in particular those of the people of Israel constitute for the qabbalists an organized system that includes without distinction the living and the dead. In the eyes of the Jewish esoterists, society is precisely the community of the living and the dead participating to a unique network of kinship and filiations, in which predominates elective affinities reflecting a structural affinity (the proximity and the remoteness of the souls upon the branches of the cosmic tree, from which they originate), and that also reflects in the world of the living through the relationship and the family and genealogical hierarchies. The later being only a temporary combination of pre-existing bonds between souls, arrangements that are renewed and reshuffled at each new generation according to the revolution of the souls.

Ultimately, human relations, friendships, love life, rivalry & hatred, find their outmost explanation within the disposition of the souls towards each other at the heart of the eternal Living, the River of Eden or the cosmic tree the qabbalists refer to. Social relationships and the mysteries of love are no more opaque and covered with veils for those who, alike Isaac Louria from Safed, have access to the knowledge of the revolutions of the souls and of the evolutive anatomy of the tree-like structure that carries them (see note 23).


2014 artwork by Ben Gross


The Author’s Notes

  1. About this subject, see the book of the Nobel prize of Medicine, John Eccles, ‘Evolution of the brain and the creation of consciousness, Flammarion, Paris, 1994.
  2. See, for instance, the second introduction to the ‘Tikunei ha-Zohar‘ (Castille, beginning of the XVIth century), a text that has entered the Jewish liturgy under the name of ‘Opening of Elijah‘ (Petihat Eliyahu HaNavi).
  3. About this subject, see, for instance, our annotated translation of the rabbi Joseph Gikatila’s booklet, ‘David & Bathsheba, the secret of Mariage‘, Editions de l’Eclat. Paris-Tel Aviv, 2003. Rabbi Joseph Gikatila was a Castillan qabbalist of the XIIIth century.
  4. The shekel of the Sanctuary‘ (Chéquel Ha Qodech) written by Moses of Leon and translated by us at éditions Verdier, Lagrasse, 1996, page 113 and 114.
  5. The ‘havayot’, or essences or esseities, designate the substance of the ten divine emanations, the sefirot, that structure each human soul.
  6. Meir ben Ezekiel ibn Gabbai, ‘The Path of Faith‘ (Derekh Emounah), re-issued in Jerusalem, 1967. Page 10. Upon the neo-platonistic theme of the constitution of the soul by all of the divine essences, see Moshe Idel, ‘Kabbalah, New Perspectives‘, Yale University Press, 1990. Chapter 6, paragraph 4.
  7.  See ‘Tikunei ha-Zohar‘, tiq. 69, folio 112b-113a.
  8. See rabbi Hayyim Vital, ‘The Gate of the Verse‘ (Cha’ar ha-Pessouqim), the section ‘Hayye Sarah’ and ‘Liqoute Torah’: “They are originating from the root of Chemaya and Abtalyon; rabbi Moses Cordovero had a spirit originating from Chemaya and rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas from Abtalyon. This is why they loved each other.” From the same author, see: ‘Sefer ha-Gilgoulim‘ (The Book of the Revolution of the Souls, Bne Brak, 1986. Page 101. Moses Cordovero and Eliyahu de Vidas, ultimately originate in the two parts of the soul of Zacharia, son of the Priest Jehoyada. (II-Chronicles, 24:20).
  9. For a general presentation of the Jewish beliefs upon the afterlife, see the work of Simcha Paull Raphael, ‘Jewish views of the Afterlife‘, Rowman & Littlefield. 2019. (originally 1994).
  10. The qabbalists attached much importance to the fact that the word ‘nechamah‘ (which literally means ‘teaching‘) was an anagram of the word ‘nechamah‘ (soul).
  11. Anonym text quoted by rabbi Hayyim Vital in ‘the Doors to Sainthood’, (Cha’ are qedoushah), published in a new edition in ‘New Writings’ (Ketavim Hadachim), Jerusalem, 1988. Chapter 2 (1). See the analysis of this text by Lawrence Fine, ‘reading of Mishnah as a vehicle for Mystical Inspiration: A Contemplative Technique Taught by Hayyim Vital‘, Revue des Etudes Juives, CXLI, 1-2 Jan-Juin 1982, page 183 to 199. See also Paul Fenton, ‘Solitary Meditation in Jewish and Islamic Mysticism in the light of recent archeological discovery‘, in Medieval Encounter, 1-2. E.J.Brill, Leyden, 1995. Page 291.
  12. Lawrence Fine, in the above quoted article chisels the term ‘soul-genealogy‘ to describe of the constant attention of the Safed qabbalists at the XVIth and XVIIth centuries.
  13. ‘The book of the pomegranate’, (Sefer ha-Rimon) written by Moses of Leon (ca. 1240-1305) , published under the title of ‘The book of the pomegranate‘, edited by Elliot R. Wolfson, Brown Judaic Studies, Atlanta, Georgia, Scholar Press. 1988. It is a work written in 1287, particularly significant for the study of the Zohar and the development of a theory of the commandment (mitzvot) and why one should do them.
  14. Expression borrowed from the Talmud, Betsa treatise 22a.
  15.  Word play between ‘soul‘ (nechamah) and ‘study‘ (michnah). It is possible that Moses Cordovero alludes here to the reading aloud method of the michnah (understood here as the compendium of the teachings of the ancient masters), described by Hayyim Vital in a text quoted earlier. The induction of extasy and prophecy through the reading of the Michnah was a technique well spread in Safed.
  16. Alluding to the verse of the Ecclesiast 1-15: ‘Was has been distorted, cannot be repaired.’
  17. The total and definitive number of souls is fixed to 600.000, as given in Exodus 12:37 and Numbers 11:21.
  18. After the Talmud’s rabbinic maxim, Chevuot 39a.
  19. The ‘Throne’ is a designation of the sefira Malkhut, Kingship. Upon the theme of ‘the image of the man engraved on the throne’, see Elliot R. Wolfson, ‘Along the Path, studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics‘, Sunny Press, New york.1995.
  20. About the Torah as cryptographic portrayal of the divine Pleroma, see Moshe Idel, ‘Kabbalah, new Perspectives.’ Chapter 8, paragraph 2.
  21. See our book, ‘The Great Texts of Qabbalah, the rites that make God‘, Editions Verdier, Lagrasse, 1993. Page 582 and following.
  22. Benamozegh, Élie (1823-1900), ‘Israel and Humanity‘, version of the unpublished original text, the chapter about cooperation.
  23. See about this subject, Hayyim Vital, ‘The Portrait of the Revolutions’, (Cha’ar ha-Gilgoulim), Tel Aviv, 1981, page 54: ‘If two persons (who dislike each other without an apparent reason) could achieve to understand through the Holy Spirit that their souls proceed from a common root, then, without a doubt they would love one another.’ About the life of the qabbalists in Safed, See S. Schechter, ‘Studies in Judaism’, Second Serie, Philadelphia. 1908.








More about Charles Mopsik: 🌿🌿About the publisher and the book:🌿More about Ben Gross:🌿And:
Charles Mopsik – The Network Of Souls In Qabbalah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

all rights reserved Via Hygeia 2022