Parshas Matos-Excerpts from Likkutei Torah


Explorations of Excerpts:

1.      How do Torah and Mitzvos feed your soul?

2.      What is fear of sin? Why should one fear the sin?

3.      What is the difference between Kosher and non-Kosher foods?

4.      What is Hekdesh?

5.      What occurs to a food when one vows against eating it, and why are vows so severe?

  1. Torah and Mitzvos feed the soul like food feeds the body:[1]

Just as one who eats food receives the nutrients his body requires, irrelevant of his understanding or comprehension of the nutrients contained within the food he ate, similarly the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvos provides the soul of a Jew with spiritual and energy and sustenance. It gives the soul the strength it needs to be aroused in a great love for Hashem.


  1. Humility due to one’s Mitzvos:[2]

The fact that specifically the physical Mitzvos have ability to quench one’s soul with the spiritual energy necessary for loving G-d should bring a person to feelings of humility. It is specifically the lower and corporeal physical objects which bring man towards his ability in serving G-d, and hence one is to feel humbled, knowing that as great as the human kingdom seems to be he is in need of the lowly physical objects in order to attach to G-d.


  1. Fear of sin:[3]

What is fear of sin? Seemingly the term should have been fear of G-d or fear of Heaven; why should one fear the sin itself, if anything one is attracted to the sin, and that is why he needs external fear of Heaven to prevent him from sinning. The explanation is as follows: Sin is not just against G-d’s will but actually causes blemishes above, which affect the entire system of the worlds including oneself. Thus, it is befitting to fear the actual sin, knowing the potential damage and destruction that it can create. This is then the meaning of the command that a Jew is to attain fear of sin; that he should focus on the reality of the affects of a sin and thus be brought to fear the sin itself. [This is similar to a person who is on a health imposed diet and cannot eat foods that contain sugar. The fear of cheating on his diet is not only from his dietitian and medical practitioner who ordered the diet, but from the negative affect the foods will have towards his health.] 


  1. How to control one’s desire against eating unnecessary foods:[4]

In truth food is rooted on a much higher spiritual level than man himself. When one eats food out of gluttonous purposes he demotes the food into evil and descends this great spiritual root into a field of impurity. This then consequently causes the person to be driven after the impurity that he just satiated with the spiritual root of the food and brings man into evil. Food is only meant to be used to give one strength and energy to serve G-d. When one contemplates this matter it will bring him to subjugate his gluttonous eating desires and to only eat that which is necessary. It is for this reason that people vow against certain foods, as the vow is a guardrail to prevent one from coming to eat the food for gluttonous purposes which will lead him astray from G-d.


  1. The difference between a Kosher and non-Kosher food:[5]

In truth there is no difference between a Kosher and non-Kosher food in their uneaten state, as both derive from Kelipa, the side of evil. The only difference is that a non-Kosher food cannot be elevated towards holiness, even if one desires to eat it for holy purposes, while a Kosher food has the potential of being elevated when eaten properly. In consequence, a non-Kosher food will contaminate a person who eats it irrelevant of his intentions, while a Kosher food can potentially elevate the person if eaten for the proper reasons. However if one eats the Kosher food for improper reasons, such as to satiate his gluttonous desires, then the Kosher food also causes man to become spiritually contaminated as does non-Kosehr food. It is for this reason that people vow against eating certain foods, as they see that they are incapable of elevating them and eating them for the proper reasons.

  1. Making something Hekdesh:[6]

When one makes an item Hekdesh for Hashem, it is not just a promise to donate the item for Temple use, but actually changes the spiritual state of the item. Take for example an animal which one consecrates to be used as a sacrifice; when one states the words “This animal shall be a Shelamim or an Olah” those words actually draw down G-dliness from the level of Soveiv Kol Almin, and penetrate the existence of this animal.


  1. What happens to a food when one makes a vow to abstain from it?[7]

The Mishneh states that a vow is only valid if one stated that it be considered like a Karban. The reason for this is as follows: When one makes a Neder/vow against a food he is not just making a promise to abstain from the food, but is actually making a spiritual change to the food itself, similar to the change that the animal undergoes when it is consecrated as a Karban. When one states the words “This food shall be to me like a Karban” those words actually draw down G-dliness from the level of Soveiv Kol Almin, and penetrate the existence of this food. It is for this reason that the Sages state that whoever makes a vow is considered to have vowed on the head of the king, as in truth a vow draw’s down light from the head of the king, from the level of Soveiv Kol Almin.


  1. Sheviras Hakeilim-The background of creation of separate beings:[8]

In the history of the spiritual worlds there existed a world called “Tohu”. This world was made up of similar dynamic found in the other spiritual worlds, only that the Sefiros of this world did not act in unison. The reason for this is because the G-dliness that was found in these Sefiros was very intense and incapable of uniting with an opposite intensity Sefira. Thus Chesed of Tohu could not work together with Gevurah of Tohu. This intensity eventually caused a rupture of the vessels in Tohu, which became known as Sheviras Hakeilim. The rupture occurred in the seven Middos of Tohu and the broken parts descended into the lower spiritual worlds of Beriya, Yetzira, and Assiya. These broken parts became the source and cause for all creation. The reason is as follows: The common denominator of all creations is that they are existences which feel themselves as separate beings from G-d, known as Yeish. If a creation were to be denied his feeling of self due his nullification to G-d then his entire existence would be compromised, as in order to exist with a personality one must be able to feel his existence. It is precisely the broken shards of Tohu which fell into the spiritual worlds of Biyah that serve as the source for this feeling of separate existence. Prior to the breakage of the vessels in Tohu the entire existence was filled with G-dliness. Now, in face of this G-dly energy it is impossible for creations to maintain a self existence, as their feeling of identity would be overpowered by the G-dly revelation. When the vessels of Tohu broke they created a new reality in which there now existed an item that is devoid of G-dliness, as just as a broken cup loses its water, similarly the broken shards of Tohu no longer contained the G-dliness they housed within them, and this then gave room for self existence to transpire. These shards which are devoid of G-dliness descended into the lower worlds of Biyah and became the active force of allowing creations to maintain self existence.


  1. The natural love a Jew has for G-d:[9]

The spark of G-dliness contained within each Jew has a great love for G-d, despite the fact that the body of the person housing this spark does not feel this love at all. The cause for this lack of sensitivity to the sparks feeling is due to that the spark is exiled within the person. This love is the natural love contained within each Jew and is similar to the love a child has for his father. This love is not a rapturous and passionate love of fire, but is rather a quiet and calm love of yearning to be with the father.      


  1. The love of a wife to her husband:[10]

There is a second type of love, in contrast to the natural love, that a Jew is capable of attaining through his own actions. This love is similar to the love of a wife to her husband. Unlike the natural love, this love is a rapturous and fiery love of passion which consumes the entire self and eradicates any other feelings or desires. This love is attained through the study of Torah. 



[1] Likkutei Torah p. 81b

[2] Likkutei Torah p. 81b

[3] Likkutei Torah p. 82a

[4] Likkutei Torah p. 82a

[5] Likkutei Torah p. 84a

[6] Likkutei Torah p. 82a

[7] Likkutei Torah p. 83b

[8] Likkutei Torah p. 82b

[9] Likkutei Torah 83b

[10] Likkutei Torah 84a

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