Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Va'Yikra 5756

(Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

"An eternal decree [from G-d] for all your [the Jews] generations in all your dwelling places; you may not consume any fat or any blood." (Leviticus 3:17)


The greater an object's intrinsic holiness, the greater the impurity it attracts to surround it. Why did the Torah prohibit the consumption of certain types of fats and the blood found within kosher animals (those which have split hooves and chew their cud)? If the Torah has designated an animal fit for consumption, why should certain parts of it be declared off limits? In the following paragraphs, based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his student Rav Noson, let us explore some spiritual anatomy that will enlighten us regarding this seemingly strange law.


Rabbi Nachman taught that the 613 commandments of the Torah are actually 613 major categories of advice which can provide solutions to every conceivable problem. All that is necessary in order find the hidden advice is expertise in how to properly unravel the verses and laws of the Torah. The spiritual energies of the kidneys influence the decision making faculties of the mind, as is taught in the Talmud, "Man has two kidneys, one of which provides advice [influencing the mind] to good, and the other to evil." (Talmud: Berachot 61a) Rabbi Nachman says that Torah study can sanctify the spiritual energies of the kidneys, directing the mind to the path of holiness. In other words, when the kidneys contain the spiritual energies of holiness, it eventually leads to purity of the mind. The spiritual energies of holiness facilitate the mind in making the right choices because they can light up the darkness of any problem. When one makes the right choices, he is directed to the pathways that lead to Hashem, the source of all joy and goodness. It is essential to safeguard the purity of the mind and all the organs of the body that influence it, because one's link to Hashem (G-d) and eternal goodness, is dependent upon the degree of purity of the mind. This is referred to as Tikun HaBris, "rectification of the covenant", which is an eternal bond that the Jewish nation made at Mount Sinai with Hashem, and is incumbent upon each Jew to observe.

Rav Noson says that although the spiritual energies of the kidneys provide good advice to the brain, the fat that covers them contain negative energies which distort the good advice. Rashi explains that the origin of the word K'SiL (which refers to an intellectual fool, one who has a great intellect but misuses it, coming to errroneous conclusions which lead him away from Hashem), has the same root as the word K'Saw'Lim (kidneys). Rashi says that the spiritual energies contained in the fat covering the kidneys prevent the intellectual fools from returning to Hashem. It is forbidden to eat the layer of fat that covers the kidneys because its essence pollutes the spiritual energies of holiness contained in the kidneys, greatly hampering the mind's ability to make the right choices, as the verse says, "You may not consume any fat or any blood [because of the negative spiritual energies they contain]." (Lev. 3:17)


Rav Noson says that many of the foods that are forbidden to be eaten are also forbidden to be sold, such as pork products. However, when it comes to cheilev forbidden fat, (as opposed to shumon, permitted fat), there are absolutely no restrictions placed upon its sale, as the verse says, "The fat of an animal...may be put to any use [which includes buying and selling], but you shall not eat it." (Lev. 7:24) This indicates that although cheilev contains spiritual energies that can cause tremendous damage to the soul, it also contains other valuable spiritual energies that have a positive effect on the mind. Rabbi Nachman taught that the mind is nourished from the choicest fats in the food we eat. Permitted fat, shumon, nourishes and purifies the mind, enabling it to come to clear and good decisions, while cheilev, has just the opposite effect, polluting the mind, causing confusion. Rav Noson says that the mind, thought and anything associated with them, are connected to the highest of spiritual levels. Although it is strictly prohibited to consume cheilev, because it can cause tremendous damage to the mind, the fact that it is associated with the nourishment of the mind is an indication that it is derived from the highest of spiritual realms. There is an axiom, the greater an object's intrinsic holiness, the greater the impurity it attracts to surround it. This means that the spiritual energies contained within the inner core of cheilev are derived from the most lofty and holy spiritual realms. Thus, as Rav Noson explains, it is permitted to deal in cheilev in business, because the very holy spiritual energies that are contained within its inner core are untouched and untainted by the extreme impurity that surrounds it.


Money has the ability to transfer spiritual energies from one physical item to another. Rabbi Nachman explains how: Every physical item has a spiritual essence which behind its concrete manifestation. In addition to an item's own unique essence, it also contains a universal soul in common with all the other items in the physical creation. This universal soul is rooted in the spiritual energies of wealth. This is why every physical item has or is associated with a monetary value. (1 Lekutai MoHaran 68) Because money is connected to the spiritual essence of every physical item as well as to the soul of the one who possesses it, it is able to bypass the very impure peripheral spiritual energies in the cheilev and extract the holy energies that are contained within, transferring them to the seller's mind. Thus selling cheilev can create great spiritual nourishment in a permitted and safe fashion, something which cannot be accomplished through eating it.


A great deal of the negative energies in kosher animals can be neutralized by ritual slaughter, kosher processing, and by the recitation of the appropriate blessings before and after partaking of the meat. However, the very potent negative spiritual energies contained in unkosher animals and cheilev are so strong that they cannot be neutralized, even through these processes. As mentioned above, the inner essence of cheilev is of the most divine energies. Since its essence is encompassed by extreme impurity, the most effective way to elevate the holy spiritual core of the cheilev to the holy realms of the upper worlds is by offering it upon the altar. The altar's holy fire serves to completely burn away all of the negative spiritual energies contained in the cheilev and elevate its extremely holy and lofty inner core to the upper worlds. Hashem gets tremendous pleasure when, as a result of neutralizing evil, the entrapped good is elevated to its source in the upper worlds, as the verse says, "A fire-offering [which consumed all of the evil spiritual energies contained in the fat], [is] a satisfying aroma to Hashem [in that the good spiritual energies contained within the offering are elevated. (The verse cannot be understood literally, for Hashem derives no pleasure from physicality.)]" (Lev. 3:5) The phrase, "to Hashem" refers to the fact that the offering elevates the lofty spiritual essence of the fat to Hashem in the upper worlds.


Rabbi Nachman taught that fats warm the body, heating the blood, inflaming the passions and urges of the body. This is associated with the spiritual energies of the primeval snake and the forces of evil. There is an axiom that everything evil has a holy counterpart and vice-versa and that evil can be neutralized only through its corresponding element. Another rule is that everything a person owns contains part of his soul. This includes any sacrifice which he happens to offer, which is why sacrifice is an important medium through which the individual can attain the spiritual rectifications his soul requires. The holy fire of the altar has the ability to burn away the fire of passion associated with the negative spiritual energies contained within the body fat of the sacrifice's owner, elevating their positive elements, just as it is able to do with the fats of the sacrifice, as the verse says, "Everything that comes into the fire [of impurity] you shall pass through the fire [of purity (in order to purge that item of its impurity)]..." (Numbers 31:23) (1Lekutai MoHaran 4)


Rav Noson adds that burning fat as a candle accomplishes the same thing as burning cheilev on the altar, albeit on a smaller scale. Physicality reflects spirituality. As mentioned above, part of an individual's soul is contained within everything he owns, in this case his candle. Therefore, when candle fat is burned to create physical light, it also illuminates the mind with a spiritual light derived from the holy spiritual energies contained in the candle's fat.


Wherever life and holiness are found, the forces of evil are also found, encircling the holiness in order to gain nourishment from it. The forces of evil are particularly attached to blood, for blood contains holy soul energies which sustain physical life. Thus, since evil attaches itself so strongly to blood, the root of all sin is in the blood. Sin occurs when one's passions are inflamed through the boiling of the blood, which is a direct result of the actions of the forces of evil. This is why it is forbidden to eat blood, as the verse says, "You may not consume any fat or any blood." (Lev. 3:17) Rav Noson compares and contrasts blood and fat. Both blood and fat contain spiritual energies that give the body life, as explained above. For this reason, the forces of evil are so strongly embedded in them. Fat nourishes the brain, which is associated with the highest level of existence and the blood mainly nourishes the body, associated with the lowest level. This means that the spiritual energies contained in the fat are of a much holier and loftier caliber than those contained in the blood. The mind is the medium for complex decision making and reasoning, through which one can come to perceive Hashem. Hence, the mind requires nourishment from the highest of spiritual levels. As opposed to the mind, the body's spiritual essence is of a much lower quality as it functions more upon instinct, requiring far less sophisticated processing than the mind. After an animal is slaughtered, its blood, which is drained off, instantly loses all or most of its initial value. That the blood nouishes the lower aspects of life and its ability to sustain life is negated by the animal's death is why it is not only forbidden to eat blood, but to deal with it in commerce as well. Because fat nourishes the highest functions of life, and it contains the spiritual energies derived from the highest of spiritual levels, when it is removed from a dead animal, most of the holy spiritual energies remain intact and this is what gives it its great value even after the animal's death. Due to the fat's association with the higher spiritual realms and its retention of its ability to nourish life, even after the death of the animal, fat is only forbidden to be eaten, but it is permitted in commerce.


There is a rule that materials of the same color have the same spiritual essence. Both fat and the brains are white. There is another principle that wicked people are connected to the forces of evil and are able to access very powerful negative spiritual energies which are associated with the specific type of evil they perpetrate. These negative energies can still be accessed, even centuries after the wicked person has passed away. Furthermore, whatever is mentioned in the Torah applies for all time.

Aisav (Esau, Jacob's brother) and Lavan (Laban, Jacob's uncle) were extremely evil people. Although both of them have long since died, the negative spiritual energies of evil they generated during their lifetimes still exist today. The name Lavan in Hebrew means white, and is associated with the negative spiritual energies contained in white colored cheilev. Concerning Aisav, the verse says, "The first one [of the twins born to Rebecca] emerged [with a] red [complexion], entirely like a hairy mantle; so they named him Aisav." (Genesis 25:25) Aisav, who is also called the Edomite, is associated with the negative spiritual energies contained in red blood. (Edom means red in Hebrew)

From the laws that prohibit the eating of blood and certain types of fat, we can gain some insight into the delicate balance and the complex relationship between the physical and spiritual worlds, where holiness resides side by side with impurity.

Rav Noson explains the practical difference between the negative spiritual energies of Lavan, who is associated with the negative aspects of cheilev and the negative spiritual energies of Aisav, who is associated with the negative aspects of blood. Lavan was remarkably impure. However, contained within the inner core of his spiritual essence were the most awesome elements of holiness. This essence was manifested in the persons of his two holy daughters, Rachel and Leah who became the matriarchs of the Jewish people. As mentioned above, the essence of every material thing is rooted in money or wealth. The level of holiness that is contained within an item is reflected by its true monetary value. [In contradistinction to the value that humans, in their limited perspective, place upon it.] Since, Rachel and Leah were so holy, their precious souls were connected to the highest realms of wealth, as the verse says, "All the wealth that Hashem saved from our father (Lavan) belongs to us (Rachel and Leah)..." (Genesis 31:16) Rav Noson understands this verse as consistent with our teaching: "All the wealth that Hashem saved from our father, belongs to us." [The great physical wealth that we possess reflects the true status of our souls. Therefore, the cause of our wealth is due to the fact that our souls are actually derived from the highest of spiritual realms. This is why our physical wealth rightfully belongs to us and not to our impure father. That we retain our wealth, despite our father's attempts to take it away from us, indicates that he is the one who is truly impure. Therefore, despite the fact we were born from an impure father, he alone is impure and we are actually holy, isolated and segregated from his impurity, just as the pure elements of fat is segregated from the impure elements.]


Above we explained the following points: The spiritual energies of money are connected to all material things at their roots; the only way to extract the very holy spiritual elements contained in cheilev is to use it in business; and that Lavan is compared to cheilev and his two daughters to the holiness hidden within it. Now we can understand why Ya'akov (Jacob) had to work so hard for Lavan (twenty years in all) in order to be able to marry and retain Lavan's two holy daughters. As mentioned above, in order to extract the holy properties contained within cheilev, one must use the cheilev in business. Thus, since Lavan and cheilev are, in essence, the same, Ya'akov had to have business dealings with Lavan (i.e. work for him) in order to extract the holiness of Lavan's daughters. Since wealth is associated with holiness, in order for Ya'akov to extract all of the holiness trapped within Lavan's unholy domain, he worked so very hard to become wealthy. The more money of holiness Ya'akov acquired from Lavan's domain, the weaker the impure spiritual energies of Lavan became. This is why the Torah mentions Ya'akov's attempts to accumulate wealth in such great detail.

Since Lavan is associated with cheilev, there was great holiness concealed within, which when extricated, produced two holy daughters, despite his own impurity. However, Aisav, who is associated with blood, which contains much lower spiritual energies, hardly contributed anything to the side of holiness, just as blood is of little value after it is extracted from the animal. In addition, Rabbi Nachman correlates the spiritual energies of Lavan with sins committed through negligence (sho'geig) and the spiritual energies of Aisav with sins committed willfully (mei'zid).



Sins due to negligence are compared to the cheilev because this type of sin is committed, not because one actually intends to sin, but due to lack of vigilance or knowledge of the law. Therefore, in this case, the person's good intentions remain intact, despite his sinful action. He maintains his purity of mind, although it becomes covered over by impure spiritual energies created by his transgression. Conversely, intentional sin is compared to the forbidden blood, for it not only entails a bad action, but involves bad intentions as well. Intentional sin actually causes great damage to the mind and doesn't just cover over the purity of the mind like unintentional sin. (Lekutai Halachot: Yorah Datah: Hilchot Cheilev V' Dom 1:1-6)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman taught that as well as reciting the mandatory daily prayers contained in the prayer book, we should also speak to Hashem, just as we would confide in our best friend: in seclusion, in the language and style with which we feel most comfortable. This is based on the advice of our sages, just to mention two sources: "Rebbe Yitzchak said: 'Why were our forefathers barren? Because Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous."' (Talmud: Yevamoth 64a) "Hashem seeks nothing other than to hear the prayers of Israel." (Medrash Tehillim 116:1) The following is an example of such a session: Help us be worthy of celebrating the holiday of Passover, the festival of our freedom, with great sanctity. Through [the spiritual energies derived from the holiday of Passover] help us to increase [the powers of our] intellect in order that we will be able to break our desire for excessive money. Through [the spiritual energies derived from the holiday of Shavuoth] help us to increase [the p owers of our] intellect in order that we will be able to break our desire for immoral behavior. Through [the spiritual energies derived from the holiday of Succoth] help us to increase [the powers of our] intellect in order that we will be able to break our desire for excessive gluttony. Sanctify us with Your commandments and purify our hearts to serve You with sincere truth. Through the merit , power, and holiness of the three [above mentioned] festivals help us to nullify our desire for the three [above mentioned] desires, the desires for money, immorality, and gluttony which [when they are not used in accordance with Your will] are the root of all evil. Help us to become truly holy and pure. Bring us from [the] darkness [of these three evils] to great light so our hearts can be pure, enabling us to recognize that You are the Master of heaven and earth. (2 Lekutai Tefilos 1)


We mentioned that at times one must descend to the depths of impurity to extricate the holy treasures that are trapped there. Ya'akov did this, extricating his two holy wives from the clutches of impurity. The following is a true story of a similar situation which occurred during the time of the famous halachic authority, the MaHarshal: Rabbanu Shlomo Luria, the famous halachic authority, better known as the MaHarshal, had a student who didn't have any children. His young wife suddenly became ill and soon afterwards passed away. During the seven days of mourning, the young man appeared to be unusually depressed, even more than what would be considered normal for such a tragedy. His holy Rebbe, the MaHarshal noticed this and, after the mourning period was concluded, he called him into his private study and asked him to explain why he was so distraught. After a lot of persuasion, the student finally opened up and explained, "Moments before my wife died, I promised her, with a sole vow, that I would never marry another woman. I am still young and I regret having made this vow." When the MaHarshal heard the words of his student, he released him from his vow, in accordance with the Torah's law that authorizes Rabbis to annul vows and thus allowed him to remarry. The young man left his Rebbe's study relieved, as if a heavy stone had been removed from his heart. Not long afterwards, the student remarried. However, shortly after the wedding, the young man suddenly became ill and died. When the MaHarshal was informed of the news, he summonsed the members of the burial society and gave them the following instructions, "Place his body in the mikva (ritual bath) and do everything to his body that is normally done to any other corpse, in accordance with Jewish law. However, when you are just about to place the body in the ground call for me and I will come to the grave." The burial society did as they were instructed and when the body was ready for interment, they calle d the holy Rabbi. The Maharshal approached the grave and wrote the following note to the heavenly court, "Greetings to the heavenly court. There is a rule that a positive commandment [the precept that a rabbi has the authority to annul a vow had led to the young man's remarrying] supersedes a negative commandment [the young man's prohibition to remarry based upon his oath]! We decree upon you [the heavenly court] with the authority of the Torah [given to the sages to issue verdicts and annul vows] that you return this young man to us!" The MaHarshal signed his name on the note and ordered that it be placed in the hand of the deceased. He then ordered that they should not cover the grave or place the monument stone over the grave, contrary to custormary ritual practice. After the funeral, everyone returned home. In less than an hour the entire city of Lublin was buzzing with the incredible news, the young man, dressed in his burial shrouds, had risen from his grave and was strolling through the streets as if nothing had happened. This great miracle made everyone realize how great and holy their rabbi really was. The resurrected man resumed life as normal. As much as he tried to remarry, however, no woman wanted to marry him, for no one wanted to marry a "dead man". [Note: Although this is not mentioned in the story, it must be assumed that his second wife left him, because of what happened.] To remedy this situation the MaHarshal decreed, through the power of the Torah, that the angel of forgetfulness should cause everyone to forget the whole incident. Soon, the entire incident was forgotten and he was able to remarry. He married a wonderful woman who made an excellent wife, and together, they were worthy to have righteous children and grandchildren who studied the Torah and fulfilled the commandments. (Sepurim May'Olam Ha'Emes pp. 345-346)


Based on the advice of our sages (Talmud: Megilah 28b), Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone should study at least one law from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) [or its equivalent, other books which are based on the Shulchan Aruch] everyday without fail. (Sichoth HaRan 29)

After the destruction of the Temple the Sages ordained that during the recital of the Haggadah (Passover ceremonial book), one should have on the Seder (Passover ritual meal) table two special dishes, one in memory of the Pascal lamb, and the other in memory of the Chagigah offering. It is customary to have a piece of shoulder meat, to symbolize that Hashem redeemed Israel with an outstretched arm, and it should be roasted, symbolic of the Pascal lamb, which was roasted over fire. The second dish should be an egg, because an egg in Aramaic is behah, that is to say, the All-merciful desired (baeh) to redeem us with an outstretched arm. The egg may be either roasted or boiled, but it must be prepared on the day before Passover, while it is still daylight. Now, inasmuch as no roasted meat may be eaten on the first two nights of Passover, we, must eat the shoulder meat during the daytime only. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 118:5)

Volume 4, Issue 23