WHY ON PARASHAT MIKETZ IT IS WRITTEN THAT “YOSEF HAD TWO SONS ‘BEFORE’ THE FAMINE” (BER. 41:50)?
According to the Sefer Yetzirah (Mishna 1:5), the space continuum consists of three dimensions and the continuum of time, of two directions (past and future). As such, the Universe is constituted by four dimensions. Moreover, the Sefer Yetzirah explains that there is a fifth dimension, to wit, the moral dimension (spiritual, or soul), which possesses two directions: good and evil. This moral dimension underlines all other dimensions from the space-time continuum. The spiritual trajectory towards good or evil depends on the actions that man impresses upon the dimensions of the Universe, which reverberate in all of the olamot (spiritual worlds and this one, physical). For instance, we see this occurring in the procreative act. As it is known, “if the person sanctifies himself [and has the appropriate kavanot], he will bring a holy garment for the neshama of his child [which will be conceived through the act], and in this way, he will enable him to serve Hashem promptly. Regardless of the greatness that this soul may attain, it is nevertheless important that the father [and the mother] be sanctified during the act. But the neshama itself, apart from its ‘garments’ [i.e., the power of thought, speech, and action which clothe the neshama in its particular spiritual root and degree, which is solely decided by Hashem], is not affected by the sanctification [and kavanot] from the parents; in fact it happens at times that, the soul of a person infinitely elevated comes down and becomes the child of an ignorant and lowly person” (Tanya, Likkutei Amarim 2). However, the ‘spiritual replies’ to the actions of man on the physical level are also bound (and thus dependent) by time and its cycles, which albeit intimately connected to the physical continuum, do transcend it. This is the spiritual law of סוף מעשה במחשבה תחלה Sof ma’aseh, b’machshava tehilah “last to be created, first to be conceived”, alluding to the Bnei Israel, which establishes the precedence of time over space, regardless of its dimensional connection. Hence, certain positive actions, even when appropriate but fulfilled on ‘inappropriate times’ can be without any effect or worse yet, with the contrary effect, chaz v’shalom. For example, Kabbalah Ma’asit teaches that kameyot/kosher amulets for different purposes (e.g., protection for pregnancy, see Ta’amei Ha’Minhagim; Toldot Adam; R’ Menashe Ben Israel, Nishmat Chayim 3:25; Midrash Talpiyot 1, Efod s.v. V’HaEven; Deguel Machane Efraim, Vayicra, et. al.) need necessarily be written not only by someone with extraordinary knowledge and purity, but in precise times, that is, on specific months, days, and even hours of the day! The writing of the kameyot, which disrespects the correct times, loses its positive value, which comes from its alignment with the intermediary angelical forces that govern the five dimensions, thus rendering it incomplete (i.e., without the influence on the angelical entity) and even dangerous (i.e., by calling the attention of negative entities, G-d forbid).
And this is exactly how it was for Yosef. He knew the secrets of the illumination from kedusha/holiness called the time of “seasons, for days and years” (Bereshit 1:14) of plenitude. But he also knew well the secrets “illumination” from tumah/impurity, called the time of time of ‘seasons, for days and years’ of famine. For to know the secrets of kedusha is to know the secrets of tumah. And what is this secret of tumah? “The secret of not procreating [when the sitra achra is ‘illuminated’, to wit] on the ‘seasons, for days and years’ of famine… When the time of famine reigns, it behooves man to sexually restrict and not to allow that the sitra achra be ‘multiplied’ [through the strange souls that in this time of famine descent to the children to be] in the world, G-d forbid” (Zohar 204a, Miketz). In fact, the Ramak (R’ Moshe Cordovero) explains that, “The husband’s marital union with his wife should occur only when the Shechinah is in Its place, which means, between the ‘two arms’ [Chesed and Gevurah]. Now, when the Community is in danger [of famine] and the Shechinah is not between the two arms, these unions are prohibited” (Sefer Tomer Devorah, Perek Tet, citing the Tikkunei HaZohar from parashat Bereshit, Tikkun 69). It is for this reason that Yosef HaTzaddik made sure to procreate ‘before’ this bitter time, thus avoiding any admixture in his acts – through the use of the holy and creative power of his brit kodesh – with the sitra achra. In this manner, he truly prevented the increase of the domain of profanity that would have benefited otherwise, chaz v’shalom, from the kedusha.
(Note: it is equally not a proper time to have marital unions on a night preceding a tzom/fast save exceptions).
HOW SEVERE IS THE SIN OF MISHKAV ZACHUR (HOMOSSEXUALISM)?
It is written regarding the creation of Adam and Chava: Vayevarech otam vayikra et shemam Adam, “He blessed them, and called their name Adam [man]” (Bereshit 5:2). Torah is very clear to reveal that G-d called them ‘both’Adam. In this way, He established that the spiritual nature of a human being is only completed in the world through the union of the ‘two distinct human aspects’, to wit, the masculine (corresponding to the active spiritual force and of expansion), and the feminine (corresponding to the passive spiritual force and of restriction). These spiritual forces embodied in the human being – and that exhibit such opposing functions – when united in the sanctified manner, form a ‘well balanced physical-spiritual pair’. This means a single being mirroring his origen in one common soul before its descent to this world and division into sexes. In fact, through this balance, flow all Divine blessings to the couple; and the whole world benefits from this most pleasing of unions in Shamayin. And as it is written, “When a couple lives in accordance to Torah law, the forces of Creation – the letters Yud and Hei from the holy Tetragram – reside with them. Then, in time, they become the image of the holy forces of Creation” (Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 10b). And it is also written that, “Who is incomplete below [i.e., not married] remains incomplete on high [i.e., spiritually]… And Ya’acov [the perfect patriarch]…alo, until his marriage was not complete” (Zohar 150a, Vayetze).
Now, our Sages, all of blessed memory, have openly cautioned us: Kedoshim tihiyu hevu persuhim min ha-arayot u-min ha-evera, “Distance yourself from the illicit relations and from sin” (Rashi at the beginning of Parashat Kedoshim). And “of all isurei ha’arayot, only regarding the avon [sin] of Mishkav Zachur the Torah uses twice the word Toeva [Vayikra 18:22]. The Talmud explains that Toeva is Toe Hu Ba, which means that ‘he is making a mistake in this’… That is, ‘this’ is against human nature! It is the type of avon that exists only to challenge G-d. It is something that comes from the anger which feeds this abominable rebelliousness” (R’ Moshe Feinstein, Teshuvah, Chelek 4 siman 115). And the Torah is also quite clear regarding the grave punishments of these forbidden unions, including that which occurs to the person committing these transgressions after he dies. The mekubal, HaRav Yehudah Fatiyah, the greatest student of the Ben Ish Hai, in his Sefer Minchat Yehudah describes his many conversations with tormented ruchot (spirits) which commited these abominations in life. They relate with terror the severity of their spiritual punishments! After all, not only from this transgression’s zera levatalah the sitra achra gets nourished and demoniacal beings are brought to life, but also each drop of semen spilled in vain implicates on the destruction of potential (unborn) children, which become imprisoned in the clutches of the klipot. Moreover, the ejaculated semen in a domain ‘absolutely improper’ deflowers these poor souls in a most perverse and horrible manner! Contrary to an union between man and wife which fulfills the mitzvah of procreation and gives the fruits of children (G-d willing), if oral sex occurs in this sin, chaz v’shalom, then the only thing fulfilled are the spiritual deaths of the children which are as if “swallowed” in this most merciless abomination! Yet, regarding these rebellious ones, all members of the Erev Rav, it is written: “They all alike have broken the yoke, and burst the bonds… a wolf… shall destroy them… because their transgressions are many, and their apostasies are great” (Yermiyahu 5:5-6). Additionally: “The wicked with their sins pollute both themselves and the Sanctuary [i.e., they contaminate the earth], and bring a ruach rah [an unclean spirit] upon themselves; but in time to come G-d will purify Israel and remove from them the unclean spirit” (Zohar 54a, Metzora). This ruach rah is the wicked Nebuchanetser, “who was deprived of his kingdom and he dwelt with the beasts of the field, his human countenance was taken away from him and from that day he did not bear the impress of a man” (Zohar 125b, Mishpatim) – and was only to bear the image of a wolf! And as it is known, “Nebuchanetser used to tear the flesh of a live rabbit and eat it” (Eicha Rabah 2:14), and Kabbalah says that, “He who has homosexual relations is reincarnated as a rabbit” (the Ari”zal, Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Hakdamah 22, end).
Each and everyone who is involved in this most grievous of sins must use all of his kochot ha-nefesh (spiritual forces) to do teshuvah and implore Hashem’s mercy.
WHY IS IT THAT ON THE HOLLIEST DAY OF THE YEAR – YOM KIPPUR – THE LITURGY SPEAKS OF ARAYOT (“ILLICIT RELATIONSHIPS”)?
Our Sages have spoken: “On Mincha of Yom Kippur we read the section [from Achare Mot] regarding the arayot [forbidden unions]” (Talmud, Megillah 31a). Now, “the temptation for sexual offenses is extremely strong” (Rashi on the Talmud, Chagigah 11b), and frequent (see Talmud, Bava Batra 164b). And why are the sexual temptations so strong? For the vital force used in a sexual act is the same necessary for the arduous work of spiritual ascension, to wit, it is pure spiritual energy that needs to be ‘exclusively channeled’ to the side of kedusha. This energy is a vehicle for ‘corrective transformation’ (tikkun) which empowers the person to penetrate deeply in his superficial characteristics, so that in this manner, he may come to the understanding of his own soul’s essential attributes (i.e., his needs, virtues, and even his mission). This needs further explanation, which I do so with the help of Heaven.
Through this spiritual creative force, the redemption of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) becomes possible. The Shechinah is the aspect of G-d that vitalizes all of Creation, as well as the holy spark exiled in the person’s soul. However, as it is known, “The divine soul does not need any improvement, and there is no reason for it to become embodied in this world… save to bring the rectifying light [for the guf and the nefesh habahamit]” (the Ari”zal, Etz Chayim, Sha’ar 26). In a similar way, “the Shechinah is exiled for the refinement of the nitzutzei kedusha [holy sparks] that have fallen in the klipot” (Tanya, Likutei Amarim 37). In addition, being in exile, this holy spark cannot (easily) evoke the soul for the spiritual service to G-d with the intense and transcendental love that lays hidden in the heart of the Jew. This exile is perpetuated through the debased desires – so distant from holiness – proceeding from his body and animal soul, as in the case of using the sexual energy solely for self-gratification. Now, when the person does teshuvah (the fierce struggle to break one’s evil nature which burns like a fiery flame) and completely leaves “the arayot, transgressions so hard to be relinquished” (Rashi on Megillah 31a), and uses this same spiritual energy to fulfill the mitzvah of union with his wife in kedusha so as to come closer to Hashem, he redeems the Shechinah’s holy spark held captive in his soul and in the Cosmic level as well. This results in a great effusion of the intense love for G-d contained in the depths of his heart. And as the spiritual root of this sublime love is the Divine attribute of Chesed (Kindness) – which derives and is a channel for the attribute of Chochmah, which ultimately needs the outflow of Chesed’s channel in order to diffuse and influence the various spiritual worlds – then, through this revelation of love for G-d, the light of Chochmah (vis à vis, the corresponding power of the soul that represents the force of humility and abnegation before G-d) is actively diffused. This diffusion is the true influencing of the entire person’s sechel! And it is for this reason that our Sages, of blessed memory, have taught us that, in the appropriate use of this sexual energy, the person is illuminated in the manner of ‘expanding his consciousness’ – perceiving G-d as the only existing Being that underlines all of existence, what ultimately subjugates the sitra achra. Thanks to that, the person spiritually ascends and raises his capacity to perceive the spiritual truths. Moreover, he actually comes to apprehend his soul’s holy spark from the Shechinah, which is its own spiritual root! And it is this illumination and spiritual intimacy that brings him to recognize the very essence of his soul, allowing the attainment of comprehension of even the necessary tikkunim (rectifications) for the blemishes of his soul yim yertza Hashem. Alternatively, if this love for kedusha is not revealed, and the spark of the Shechinah is maintained “imprisoned”, the more elevated flux of consciousness (from Chochmah) is hindered from manifestation, and the person from being illuminated. Consequentelly he is spiritually degraded. This is what occurs when such precious vital force is corrupted, that is, removed from the person through his connection to the arayot – the sexual promiscuity and the total absence of consciousness regarding the use of this force in vain and in something external to itself. When this sexual force (which after all has its root in holiness) is diverged, it then becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for the negatives forces that aggressively seek only the individual’s spiritual deviation, resulting in his distancing from kedusha, chaz v’shalom. This is the precise reason for the exaggeration of stimuli and sexual perversions in our society – acting as powerful instruments for the weakening of man’s mind – in order to favor the klipot and sitra achra in its overall objective to psychological enslave man, and to ensure the “end of all flesh” (Bereshit 6:13); this means its physical and spiritual annihilation, chaz v’shalom. After all, evil is al known as Mashchit (Destroyer).
Finally, we are reminded during Mincha of Yom Kippur – the day of greatest spirituality – what we should do to go up the spiritual ladder: we must avoid using this vital force inappropriately. The fact that this reminder occurs exactly when we are at the highest point of the fasting is also very important. Our Sages explains that, the greater the spiritual elevation, the greater the tests. These inappropriate taivas (temptations) can and should be resisted and purged through the meditation and the fast of this holiest of days. The idea here is that, the weaker the person’s physical aspect (the body per se) the stronger the spiritual aspect (i.e., the more his soul shines), implying that he will be less sexually tempted. Thus, the Yom Kippur liturgy, being that it is such a elevated time, teaches us how to distant ourselves from this terrible unbalance. The formula is a simple one: connect to Hashem, distant yourself from the materialism and do not use your precious vital force in a vain and rash manner, but use it with holiness as taught by Torah. In this way, certainly, the person will testify to his own rectification and spiritual climbing, and the coming of the true Mashiach will be hastened, may it be so, amen selah.
HOW DOES THE SITRA ACHRA BENEFIT FROM THIS SPIRITUAL ENERGY?
As it is brought in Kabbalah, “For during all those  years that Adam kept away from his wife [Chava, to ‘know her’], unclean spirits came and conceived from him, and bore offspring, which are called ‘plagues of the offspring of Adam’ (Zohar I:169b, Vayishlach). The ‘unclean spirits’, known as sexual shedim/demons, are called Lilim yemach shemo, and have origin in the feminine shed Lilit, yemach shemo. These are “impregnated” (see Avot d’Rebbi Natan 37:3) from the spiritual energy of semen (spilled in vain) which was ‘not’ used in kedusha (and in this manner, impurify man) and give birth to the ‘plagues’ – another class of shedim – which flit about in the world ‘filling the atmosphere’ together with the other hordes, such as the mekatrigim/accusers (see Zohar 190a, Vayeshev; 196b, Balak; R’ Chayim Palachi, Kaf HaChayim 240). Moreover, this progeny of shedim is very “special”, being that they are hybrid creatures of demoniac-souls (i.e., human neshamot that have no guf/body to be connected to, plus the Lilim, yemach shemo), which steal and so ‘starve these poor souls of their great vital energy’ (see Bamidbar Rabbah 16:25) since each neshama that is brought down from its source above receive spiritual sustenance.
Now, by Divine law, these plagues are as much considered the person’s children – for he was responsible for their fathering – as are their own children of flesh and blood in the world! These demoniac-souls then hunt their ‘causers of suffering’ (not the Lilim yemach shemo, but their human parents that initiated all these sufferings for them), staying close to them and seeking to siphon their spiritual energy. When a man dies, these ‘rebellious children’ accompany his coffin to the cemetery, mourning hin as now they cannot cling to that space and claim it (R’ Chayim Palagi, Tochachat Chayim, Shemot, pp. 29-30.). And as it is written, “When a man goes to the side of the Left and walks in impurity, he draws to himself all kinds of impure spirits, and an unclean spirit clings to him and refuses to leave him since these spirits cling only to those that cling to them first” (Zohar 55a, Bereshit). This connection causes man great mental confusion and the machshavot zarot/strange thoughts in his life and vengeance from these plagues on the afterlife! (ibid. Tochachat Chayim) Human beings are forbidden to father these “children”, for they profane the world and man, and seek to dominate humanity. This is contrary to G-d’s Law, which affirms: “Be fruitful, and multiply… and have dominion over the birds of the air” (Bereshit 1:28), to wit, all celestial creatures, for only “man was created in His image” (ibid. 27). It is good that man remembers in the image of Who he was created, so he can be one who is happily walking the straight path, “For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the innocent shall remain in it” (Mishlei 2:21), amen.
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