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Branches of Souls

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:September 3, 2014

There’s a story in the Talmud which says that Rabbi Pereira had a student who could not understand what he was teaching, and so he repeated the teachings to his student 400 times, until he finally understood. After going through that process, a voice came out from the Heavens and said to Rabbi Pereira: “You have a choice of either receiving Light for 400 years for yourself, or for your entire generation to merit what is called the Olam Haba, a true connection to the Supernal worlds and the Light of the Creator.” Rabbi Pereira answers that his request is for he and his generation to merit a true connection to the Light of the Creator. Then, the Creator says to the angels that because Rabbi Pereira’s desire was to give his entire generation a connection to the Light of the Creator, Rabbi Pereira will also receive 400 years of Light, in addition to his generation meriting the Olam Haba.

So, the Ari asks the question - how can it be that this action made it so that Rabbi Pereira’s entire generation, millions and millions of people, merited a connection to the Light of the Creator, when even Moses, who was greater than Rabbi Pereira, didn't merit the Olam Haba for his generation? The Ari explains the secret of this is that there are at least 600,000 of what are called branches of souls. Each one of us is attached to one of those branches of souls, and we influence everybody else, each of those sparks of souls, who is on that branch with us. As such, all those who are attached to the branch of Rabbi Pereira are called his generation, even though they don't all live in the same actual chronological generation.

The Ari is telling us that it's not referring to a generation as we understand it, or to a chronological time. Rather, when it says “generation,” it is referring to all those hundreds of thousands or even millions of sparks of souls that are part of that branch. The promise to Rabbi Pereira, because of his action, is that all those who are attached to his branch will achieve their correction.

What we learn from this section in the Ari is that every single one of us has an effect that is much greater than we can even imagine on every single soul that is a part of our branch. Every single action, every single positive or negative action that we do has a direct effect on this branch of our soul. Here, Rabbi Pereira did just one action, and for eternity all those souls that are connected to his branch of souls will be affected in a positive way because of that action. Because of Rabbi Pereira, that part of the branch is corrected, and therefore, all the souls in that branch will be elevated.

Therefore, what we want to become awakened to on this Shabbat, and certainly in this month of Elul (Virgo),is the responsibility that we have. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or maybe millions, of souls that are part of our branch of souls. And every single action that we do influences those souls, whether they are in this world or not.

One of the important aspects of this, as the Ari explains, is to truly begin to love your soul by beginning to appreciate the effect that you have. Before you do a negative action, stop and say to yourself – “it's not about me, I am part of a branch of souls, and there are thousands of souls that will be pulled down if I do this action.” Conversely, before you do a positive action, realize that if you elevate now, you don’t just elevate yourself, you also elevate the entire branch of souls to which you are attached. There are thousands and thousands of souls that are depending on every single action that you do.

It is truly a merit that through these teachings from the Ari we can become awakened to our work this month, and on this Shabbat. We can become awakened to loving our soul, and correcting it and elevating it in a way that not only affects our lives, but as we now understand, has a direct effect on thousands upon thousands of souls.

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