The Kabbalah Of Life-Changing Parenting – A Short Guide On How Education Spiritually Works

Parenting is a very high calling from a Kabbalistic point of view

As my readers may recall from previous articles, we all have our own spiritual systems (called Partzufim) to fix in our Avodat Hashem. These Partzufim provide a framework for how all human activity works (or “should work”) and how they can go from a broken, dysfunctional, and chaotic state into a fixed, functional, and harmonized state that radiates Hashem’s Light into Creation. This second state is called “Tikkun” (rectification) and that’s what we are aiming for.

There are 5 main Partzufim (or 6 depending on how you count) and they are called according to the main structure of the family unit and the Sephirot:

  1. Arich Anpin (Long face, “the grandfather”) – Sephira of Keter
  2. Abbah (“father”) – Sephira of Chokhmah
  3. Immah (“mother”) – Sephira of Binah
  4. Ze’ir Anpin (Short face, “the son”) – Sephirot of Chesed, Gevura, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod
  5. Nukvah (female, “the daughter”) – Sephira of Malkhut

Just like the spiritual worlds follow this pattern, so too we follow this pattern as well in our lives, both in a physical as well as a spiritual sense. Everyone is bound by it because everyone was Created in Hashem’s image.

Note: We don’t have the figure of the “grandmother”, because she’s included in the “grandfather”. In an ideal world, both husband and wife become one as they mature with ever more unity, and there’s no distinction between them. It’s just that due to modesty reasons, we generally only see the face of the man outside (hence the name), while the woman remains “inside”.

hivartei a baker baking matzot in a hurry. Hyper realistic ultr 1057d422 7359 4c77 b5a9 7f65e7763500

So what does this all have to do with parenting?

The answer is: Everything!

Leveling up in Kabbalah

Based on the Zohar the Arizal’s writings are full of explanations on how the Partzufim (and by extension, us), level up. Remember that it’s only the last 2 Partzufim of Ze’ir Anpin and Nukvah that suffered the most from the breaking of the vessels. These are the ones that we focus most when being mekaven, though the others also get rectified, sort of en passant.

The way to level up is by receiving Mokhin (divine intellect) that rectifies the Partzufim. Having enough Mokhin, which can be either Keter, Chokhmah, Binah or Da’at enable the Partzuf in question to grow and reach maturity. Add some more and they are able to unite and generate the Light that we desire.

We see this progression very clearly in the regular Partzuf of prayers (called Partzuf HaYomi [“daily”]) and how it reaches its apex on Shabbat. Throughout the week it receives a certain level of Mokhin only from Binah. Then it is completed on Shabbat night. On Shabbat morning it begins to receive the Mokhin of Abbah and finally, after Mincha, it receives the Mokhin from Arich Anpin.

One crucial point is that as a Partzuf (and by extension, a person) receives Mokhin, he grows. Once you receive enough knowledge about a thing, you may become that thing in the sense that it becomes a part of you.

Everyone starts at level 0, right?

Say you are a writer.

Once you acquire the skills to write well and practice well, then they become a part of you, and you grow, thereby generating fruits (works), which would be the equivalent of generating offspring.

Similarly, a man (the parallel of Ze’ir Anpin) and a woman (the parallel of Nukvah), once they receive Mokhin and grow to become proper, educated individuals, may get married and create children. When a couple gets married, they get elevated.

When they have children, that’s when they go from their current Partzuf to become Abbah and Immah. When they have grandchildren, and hopefully they learn to create a home of unity, peace and harmony, they both transcend to the Partzuf of Arich Anpin.

The Paradox of Perspective

Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (The Holy Rashas’h) revealed to us a fascinating principle, which is that essentially all Partzufim and Sephirot are the same. The only perceivable difference is to how “bright” or “exalted” they are. After all, everything is light and everything comes from Hashem.

In other words, in all technical sense, there’s no difference between a father and a son, except the former is supposedly on a higher level than the son for having come before and hence deserves the Mitzvah of Kibud av v’em (honoring one’s parents). But eventually, the kids also become parents and will have children of their own.

So, can a man be a son, father and grandfather? Of course, it all depends on the perspective we are looking from. And this change in perspective helps us grasp the variety of Hashem’s names. For every level of Creation and involvement, there’s a different name we use, much like a person can be called “father”, “darling”, “son”, “Jimmy” and so on according to his relationship to the people involved.

There’s another, deeper side to this paradox that helped me and comforted me greatly in life.

Given that we are at the intersection between Tohu (“chaos”) of the coming system and Tikkun (“rectification”) of the previous system, it stands to reason that we are both rectified and broken at the same time.

This may sound crazy, but it’s very eye-opening.

All the Avodat Hashem (Torah, Mitzvot, Tefilah and so on) we did rectify us to the level we have reached, while all those that we will do in the future put us in a situation of “lack. We are constantly moving up and there are times when we need to feel how much we lack, and times when we need to appreciate how much we’ve done.

A proper balance is needed here as with everything else in life.

I believe this is the meaning of many Rabbis that one should consider oneself to be a “Beinoni” (a middle leveled person), not a Tzadik and not a Rasha.

Parenting is also about finding the balance between Chesed (love) and Gevurah (discipline).

The Kabbalah of Parenting

As I wrote above, when a man and a woman become parents, they level up. Now, parenting is a lot about love, education and discipline in the right measure. There are tools, ideas and perspectives a child needs to learn in order to grow up properly and be a good person.

Descent parents want to impart these Lights to their children so they can be righteous, well-adjusted, kind, just, wise, healthy, humble, wealthy, and strong. These are all desirable attributes.

However, a very important point to make is that Mokhin don’t descend in one go or even directly.

They must first clothe themselves in the lower levels of the father and mother in order to be passed. What this means is that before any light comes down and can be passed, it needs to vest itself in “garments” so they can be received. Not only that but only the “lower part” of the light can be transmitted.

In Kabbalistic terms, the Mokhin of the parents go down to the Netzach, Hod and Yesod only to then are delivered to Ze’ir Anpin and Nukvah so they can absorb it. This process is very important and has many goals such as preventing the shattering of the vessels again.

To give a few ramifications of this:

  1. A parent must often clothe ideas into stories and games so the child can learn. The story and game are secondary, as the goal is really for the child to learn something, like how to be kind and honest.
  2. We all once jumped into the street without looking at both sides. This is something that needs to be taught. In the beginning, children think that “looking at both sides” is a deep secret of Creation and need time to internalize that this is just simple common sense. First, the Mokhin start in the head as Chokhmah, Binah and Da’at (this deep sense of awe), and only later become second nature (Netzach, Hod and Yesod)
  3. No one skips levels. We are all learning and what is obvious for some people may be incredibly complicated for others. A doctor might not see what’s so difficult about playing an instrument and a musician may not see what’s so difficult about doing surgery. Either way, the order of Mokhin remains the same always.
  4. Everything that is given over with compassion is much more well-received, including rebuke. Compassion is the light of Keter, and is the highest, all-encompassing vessel that holds all the other lights.
  5. Parenting requires adaptation to the needs of the children. Once one of the coordinators of my son’s school told us the story of a kid who needed to learn while upside down on the sofa. If that’s the case, so be it.
  6. There are times which are of “grace” (E’t Ratzon) when things are easy and flow, and times of “judgments” (Dinim) when things are difficult and painful. We as parents need to learn to spot where we are standing. There are times when a child simply cannot learn, and that’s fine.
  7. There’s a progression to learning and “jumping” levels can not only be counter-productive but may also be dangerous. No one learns how to perform surgery before thorough understanding of the human body.
Parenting also applies to grandparents as our sages teach.

Proper parenting enables us to build the proper vessels in our children and fill them with the Light they need to grow up and be successful in life (with Hashem’s help).

Of course, this is just an introduction to proper parenting and how it works from a Kabbalistic standpoint, but it should be a good start (if I may say so myself).

Concluding remarks

Ultimately, parenting defines our relationship with Hashem.

As we teach our children, that’s how He will teach us by Middah Keneged Middah. One who wants Hashem to be merciful to him needs to be merciful to others as well, including his children. The GRA explains that the reason we don’t hit children anymore is because no one can actually do it from a place of love and calm, only of anger and bitterness. Children absorb that.

Parenting is a daily, constant task, much like we are a daily, constant task, to Hashem who continuously oversees Creation. Through parenting, we are creating the link to the next generation and also ensuring great blessings both in this world and the next.

Rav Yehuda Ptaya, master Kabbalist and exorcist (for lack of a better word), once accompanied a funeral procession of a very righteous man who was generous with his money during his lifetime. Being rich enabled him to support many of the poor Jews of the Baghdad community and do a lot of good. However, he unfortunately was not blessed with children.

As they were lowering his casket to be buried, R’ Yehuda Ptaya said: “Our dear deceased will have to forgive me for saying this, but you should all know that all the goodness he performed in his lifetime could not equate to leaving behind a single son to say Kaddish for him.

May we all merit and succeed in true parenting.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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2 Responses

  1. I am in a thankful mood right now, so I thank you for allowing me to ‘speak’ to you on this blog/email.
    God gives me much testing and difficulties with just having simple faith/knowledge in Him and His Torah (more about that another time), but I thank Him for it allows me to be humble and know I’m just dust and ashes.
    So last night I had a dream (Rav Berland surely was awake at this time) where I somehow ‘felt’ that his presence was with me (others have recounted him appearing in dreams/visions), and in the dream I saw my body glowing a bright slightly blue aura.
    What does this mean? Maybe it’s not ‘real’ (one could say that he didn’t actually appear in my dream), but everything has a purpose from God anyway.
    God gives me much difficulty in approaching Him with simplicity, but He is still with me.
    Praise Yah.

    1. You’re welcome. Yes, everyone who wants to get closer to Hashem gets tested, this is one of the laws of Creation. It takes patience and perseverance, as Rebbe Nachman writes in Likutey Moharan and Rebbe Natan in Hishtapchut HaNefesh (this is highly recommended if you can find a translated version).
      As for your dream, this is a great sign. Dreams, like thoughts, are real, have meaning and power. It’s your soul that goes out of your body and sees things. Thinking that “it’s just my imagination” is an error, because it’s precisely through imagination and dreams that a person can perceive the spiritual worlds. Just because our physical counterparts can’t perceive them, doesn’t mean they are not real. As for the meaning, I don’t know but it shows you are connected to Rav Berland as your soul feels attracted to him. Could be he was blessing you?
      Keep up the great work, Simon.

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