Topic: Well Being | Posted:December 11, 2013
Jacob is called by two names in the Torah - Jacob and Israel. The name Israel represents a higher level than the name Jacob. The Ohr HaChaim, Rav Chaim ben Attar, asked why in the portion of Vayechi when the Torah speaks about the seventeen joyous years of Jacob in Egypt, it refers to him as Jacob instead of Israel.
The name Israel, besides the elevated spiritual levels it represents, is indicative of Jacob’s happy times. Whenever Jacob was happy, he was called Israel, and whenever he was sad, he was called Jacob. And we learn that there are two parts to our soul; each soul has a “Jacob” and an “Israel.” The lower part of our soul, which we live with most of the time, is called Jacob. The higher part of our soul, which is connected to the Light of the Creator, is called Israel. When the Torah mentions Jacob and Israel, the Torah is actually speaking about us - the lower part of our soul that feels sadness and the higher part of our soul that feels joy and is truly connected to the Light of the Creator.
When we say that on Shabbat we receive an additional soul, it means that we have an opportunity to draw the pure, higher part of our soul to us. The additional soul that comes on Shabbat connects us to the name Israel, and therefore it is important for us to understand that if we are sad on Shabbat, we will push the additional soul, the higher level part of our soul, away. The same was true for Jacob. He could only manifest the higher part of his soul when he was joyous.
One of the gifts of Shabbat is that when we are joyous, the perfected part of ourselves, the additional soul, can come into our reality. However, if we are sad or depressed on Shabbat, the additional soul cannot come down into our life.
We are taught that drinking something warm immediately after Shabbat helps us with our correction. One evening after Shabbat, a great kabbalist sat in meditation, and one of his students brought him something warm to drink. The kabbalist’s eyes were closed, and he was obviously deep in thought. After an hour, the drink got cold. So his student brought him another cup filled with something warm to drink. This drink, too, got cold. When the student brought the kabbalist a third cup of something warm to drink, he saw his teacher open his eyes, and asked him, “What were you thinking about?”
The teacher answered, "Every Friday night, the perfect part of our soul comes down into our world and there is a correction; there is Light that this perfect part of our soul hopes and desires that we will reveal and manifest. When Shabbat comes to an end, our usual soul asks the additional soul, that perfected part of ourselves, ‘Did I achieve anything? Did I correct anything?’ and if the answer is yes, both parts of the soul are happy. But if the answer is no, then they both begin crying. So sometimes, when the additional soul leaves after Shabbat, it leaves with tremendous pain because we have not corrected anything for it on Shabbat. If you could ever hear the crying of souls, it would be impossible to erase the sound from your mind because it is so terribly painful to hear.”
The kabbalist continued explaining to his student, “Every Shabbat, through our connection to our Neshama Yetara, our extra soul, we are given the ability to make a correction. And if we do not feel or do not awaken this joy and anticipation, this perfected part of our soul, the additional soul, leaves. So it is only through joy—on Shabbat and even during the week—that we draw a little part of that perfected part of our soul to us. And throughout the week, if we are sad, we push away those elements of the additional soul, those elements of our perfected soul.”
Unfortunately, many of us are so disconnected from both parts of our soul, that after Shabbat we do not hear or feel anything. But the lesson from this story is that every Shabbat, we are given an incredible opportunity to interact with our perfect reality, with the perfected part that each one of us possesses.
This concept of Jacob and Israel, therefore, is really about us. We cannot be called “Israel” if we are not connected to the perfected part of our soul. The lesson here for us is to understand the importance of joy; certainly on Shabbat, but even throughout the week. When we understand this on a deeper level, we know that we cannot make any correction unless we are connected to the perfected part of our soul, we cannot make any correction while we are sad.
We are given the gift on the Shabbat of Vayechi to connect to the level of Israel, and to understand that if we want to make any corrections, we need to be truly happy.