The Secret Of The Two Spiritual Worlds – Rachel and Leah

According to the Zohar, women have their souls rooted either in two the spiritual worlds of Rachel and Leah

It’s very difficult to speak about deep concepts such as these because our perception is often so limited and clouded by foreign wisdom. But we are talking about the dimensions of the spiritual worlds of Atzilut.

According to Kabbalah, there exists an intriguing principle suggesting our interconnectedness with major biblical figures. Referred to as “General Souls,” they embody facets in which we all share, distinct from the more individualized “Particular Souls” like our own. These figures not only offer an accessible link for us but also manifest their actions and teachings in every corner of Creation where focus our attention.

In other words, we can learn about our lives from them, because we are included in them and go through the same challenges and lessons, albeit in subtler (and sometimes not so subtle) ways.

Among these figures, Rachel and Leah stand out serving as the paradigm for the essence of the Shekhina. This isn’t an overstatement; in fact, all other female biblical personalities merely adopt the name “Shekhina” in a borrowed manner. It’s solely Rachel and Leah who truly embodies this essence, a fact we’ll soon uncover.

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The source for the spiritual worlds in Etz Chaim

In his seminal work, Etz Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Vital teaches that following the divine will to initiate Creation, Hashem retracted His Essence, crafting an intricate system of filters to veil His infinite presence (which is Ein Sof). This intricate design served a dual purpose: revealing Himself to lower beings while concealing His splendor so free will can be maintained. Central to this system are the Sephirot, which act as channels transmitting sustenance from one to another, facilitating the existence of Creation through layers of emanation.

Throughout Rabbi Chaim Vital’s teachings, he underscores the interconnectedness between characters, words, and letters in the Tanach with specific Sephirot. Moreover, these Sephirot govern every facet of Creation, whether viewed from the microcosmic or macrocosmic perspective, encompassing individuality and communal structures.

The Shechinah, the immanent presence of Hashem, finds manifestation in the Sephirah of Malchut (Kingship). It resided within the Tabernacle historically and today manifests when a quorum of ten men prays together or when individuals engage in proper study or perform Mitzvot.

The source of the Shechinah resides in the loftiest realm of Atzilut (Emanation), delineated into two parts: the higher, named Leah, and the lower, Rachel. It’s a general rule that the more concealed an aspect, the more elevated its nature.

This insight aligns the pieces together: Leah, symbolizing the higher Shechinah, existed on a level beyond Yaakov’s immediate comprehension. At that stage in his life, he could only connect with Rachel, the embodiment of the revealed world. Only when he received the exalted status of the name Israel did he begin appreciating Leah.

What we can learn from Rachel and Leah

Rachel entered into marriage with Yaakov merely seven days after his union with Leah. Described in the Zohar as the “Alma D’Itgaliah” (the revealed world), Rachel is juxtaposed with Leah, termed the “Alma D’Itkassiah” (the hidden world). In the realm of Kabbalah, Rachel embodies one of the lower Shekhina’s names, specifically as a representation of Malkhut, the Sephirah of Kingdom. In contrast, Leah is identified as one of the higher Shekhina’s names, symbolizing Bina, the Sephirah of Understanding, an aspect few have the privilege to engage with directly.

Women’s souls draw from either of these two archetypes, a linkage discernible through their personalities. The Torah portrays Leah with ‘weak eyes,’ a result of frequent weeping (initially tied to her destined marriage to Esav, later altered). Rashi’s commentary describes her daughter Dina as ‘Yatzanit,’ suggesting a certain degree of boldness or outgoing nature. Hence, it’s inferred that more emotionally expressive and extroverted women trace their lineage to Leah.

Conversely, Rachel’s demeanor suggests a marked sense of discretion. Notably, she yielded Leah to Yaakov on their wedding day without protest and remained composed even when Leah accused her of stealing “her husband” when requesting the Dudaim (mandrakes). Rachel embodies introversion, enduring struggles with a more outward manifestation.

A significant distinction arises in Rachel’s role as the archetype of the lower Shekhina, serving as the conduit through which Hashem administers the world. Positioned as the Sephirah of Malkhut, Rachel is the focal point for rectifying all spiritual worlds, together with Ze’ir Anpin. This responsibility stems from the notion that Leah (Bina) is already mostly rectified, necessitating minimal intervention.

Hence, the Kavanot (mystical intentions) crafted by the Arizal concentrate precisely on the rectification of Malkhut, the final Sephirah.

In-depth learning on Rachel and Leah

Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, an outstanding Kabbalist predating the Arizal and Rav Chaim Vital, expounds on the many words of the Torah and how they are related to the Sephirot in his seminal work, Sha’arei Orah. This compilation holds immense significance and fascination as it aids in our meditative prayer, enhancing the inflow of Shefa, divine abundance, to us.

The Shekhinah, embodied in Malkhut, has many functions and stands as the channel withholding this abundance and administering judgment. Therefore, a substantial part of our spiritual practice involves softening these judgments.

Among the many names attributed to Malkhut, one of the most renowned is אדני, signifying Hashem’s dominion over all creation. Another significant name is ברכה (Bracha, blessing), symbolizing the conduit through which Hashem blesses our world. Additional names such as בתשבע (Batsheva, daughter of 7) and באר (Be’er, well [of living waters]) allude to Malkhut, Rachel, and the Lower Shekhina being the sources of blessing for our world. It’s intriguing that Rachel, who gave birth to Yosef (the prototype of the Sephirah of Yesod, Foundation), sustained all her sons during their time in Egypt.

Lastly, cryptic names like קול (Kol, voice), מיקדש (Mikdash, Tabernacle), and אבן (Even, stone) conceal profound Kabbalistic secrets and are all also related to Malkhut.

During prayer, focusing on the multifaceted meanings of the names associated with the Shekhina empowers and advantages us significantly. It’s crucial to remember that while our concentration remains solely on Hashem, we shouldn’t mistake this for the physical Rachel from the biblical narrative. Instead, understanding Rachel Imenu, our matriarch, aids in comprehending the workings of Rachel, the Shekhina.

Rachel’s profound connection offers us a remarkable closeness. As the exemplar of Malkhut, she facilitates a deep connection with Hashem.

Rachel and Leah are 2 spiritual worlds from Atzilut

Leah, the hidden world

A very deep lesson comes from Yaakov’s journey: his initial inability to appreciate Leah, as indicated by the Torah stating he “hated” her, stemmed from his lack of spiritual maturity. It was only after his transformative struggle with Esav’s angel, earning the title Yisrael, that he found the capacity to truly love her.

This underscores the truth that one cannot love what they do not understand, highlighting the individual’s need to undergo necessary rectifications, Tikkunim, to fulfill their potential in life.

Rabbi Tzaddok HaKohen of Lublin emphasizes that an individual’s crucial Tikkun typically involves tackling what proves most challenging for them. For instance, if someone naturally leans towards outspokenness, part of their rectification is learning restraint, and vice versa, applicable to all character traits.

Given Rachel’s representation of the revealed world, her sons, Yosef and Binyamin, faced the task of safeguarding themselves against external impurities.

Yosef’s pivotal trial involved resisting the temptation presented by Potifar’s wife. Remarkably, he withstood this test for nearly a year, though he nearly succumbed towards the end of this period. His triumph in this arduous trial was significantly rewarded by being granted two tribes of his own.

As the father of one of the two Messianic Kings, Yosef imparts wisdom on preserving the brit milah, especially crucial for men. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev suggests that Yosef’s efforts provide the strength for men to safeguard their own brit milah as well.

Conversely, Leah bore six tribes: Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissachar, and Zevulun. Yehuda, notably, stood out among them, earning the lineage of King David and the final Messiah. David’s role encompassed venturing into the world, leading in conflicts, and guiding the people. Even the other tribes held significant roles, reflecting their mother’s association with the concealed world.

Midrash on the two wives of Adam

An intriguing Midrash suggests that prior to Chava (Eve), Adam had a wife who also bore the name Chava. However, her severity and embodiment of unmitigated Judgment (gevurot) led to conflict between them. The dispute escalated to a point where Adam, using a divine name, killed her therefore transforming her into the queen of demons, who tempts men in their sleep.

Her name remains unspoken to avoid drawing her, but it’s Lilith (again, please do not pronounce).

Following this event, Hashem bestowed upon Adam the second Chava, mentioned in the Torah.

The queen of demons, seeking recompense, according to the teachings of the Arizal, reincarnated as Leah to fulfill her rectification. This destined Leah to marry the wicked Esav, but through her prayers, she redirected her fate, becoming Yaakov’s wife instead. Her weakened eyes, attributed to her prayers, symbolize her struggle. Despite this, she stood on a higher spiritual level than her sister, akin to the queen of demons’ elevated status above Chava, succeeding in reaching her full potential.

In essence, Rachel and Leah’s stories within the Torah unveil layers beyond mere surface understanding, showcasing the awesome depth of Hashem’s wisdom.

While we might only glimpse a fraction of this vast wisdom, it remains ample for meditation and inspiration, guiding our paths in Avodat Hashem and understanding that the Torah is much more than meets the eyes.

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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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