When you begin reading parasha Mishpatim from the pshat level, simple story, it begins by speaking about the different levels of servant/slaves and their requirements. Slavery has been debated in geopolitics throughout the ages and with the stigma it brings, the parasha may be difficult for some people to process. Instead of being offended or worse thinking slavery is supported, let's take a look at what this Infinite Divine Being is trying to transmit to us via this parasha.
One rule when you are reading Torah is that ‘don’t get stuck in the surface level read.’ We use the pshat or the simple story and it’s characters to have a starting coordinate to begin the journey of delving deeper into what the essence is. As in all things in life, including relationships, our health, world events, etc. we need to ask ourselves what is the root of the matter, what forces are moving this and what is the essence.
Far to long have we have stayed on the surface of most things in our life. Whether it is from fear of going deeper which always brings change or not knowing how to go deeper. Torah learning demands for you to go deeper. So let's do some scuba diving.....
Before we jump in remember, the Torah is not to be read, but learned. It is not a history book nor is it meant to be taken only literal, G-d forbid. Learn to leave your personal opinions at the door and allow the AUTHOR to do the talking and teaching for that matter. If the verses you read sound outlandish, offensive and even disturbing, this is your cue to take a deeper look. It's one way the Holy One tries to get our attention!!
In this blog will take a look at three levels of servant/slave and let’s ask the necessary questions to help us arrive at some answers. Here is the first few verses from the parasha....
“When you acquire a Hebrew bondsman, he will work for six years and in the seventh year he will go out freely to freedom….if he is married his wife will leave with him. If his master gives him a Canaanite slave woman…..If a man sells his Hebrew daughter as a maidservant……
Remember the Torah is a code book. We must learn the codes to decipher what it is trying to teach us. The Arizal, one of the greatest Mekubal of all time, comes to give us some insight. In truth the three levels of servants are really coming to tell you about three levels of the soul and how each level of the soul serves the higher level.
What is a Canaanite Slave Woman?
Canaanite Slave Woman= This level of the soul is the Nefesh of the world of Assiyah, the world of action, the world we live in. This is the lowest level of the soul. A soul/body whose G-d consciousness is at this level relates to G-d in a behaviorally oriented way and perfunctory way. This level of soul/body is alive, animated, but not much more than that. There is no emotional and or intellectual involvement with his/her service to the Creator or Divine processes. This level serves G-d not necessarily against the will, but definitely would rather be do something else. This level also has not fully been rectified or completed yet.
What is a code for Canaanite?
Canaan=Canaan was the fourth son of Ham, who was cursed because Ham castrated Noach. By cutting off Noach's ability to birth a fourth son, Ham, measure for measure cursed his own fourth son. The damage was done to the procreative sexual organ we call Yesod. Canaan is code word for a place in the Land that is in not rectified or complete yet. Canaan can also mean 'lowland' or 'low place in body consciousness' The redeemed body/soul is the 'promised land.'
What is a code for Slave?
Slave=The aspect of the soul/body that serves all the higher levels of the soul.
We must understand what souls are in truth. Souls and their respective levels are levels of G-d consciousness. Each lower level serves the level above it. The level of the Nefesh Soul (Canaanite Slave Girl) is subservient to all other levels of the soul.
Why a slave woman and not a man?
Woman=she is the lower aspect of receiving. Remember when the Torah talks about male or female, it is talking about its upper and lower polarity of masculine and feminine. The masculine being the straight line energy, male, bestowal and giving essence, the feminine being the curved energy, female and the vessel of receptivity. Slave woman in this case represents the lower HEI in the Holy Name of YHVH.
What is a Hebrew bondsman?
Hebrew bondsman (male servant)= is a Hebrew masculine soul associated with the world of Yetzirah, the next world up from Assiyah, known as the world of formation. Hebrew bondsman is a code for the Ruach level of the soul. Ruach is the second level of the soul spectrum.
One who attains this level of divine consciousness (soul) of Ruach lives in the experience of the world of Yetzirah, and has an emotional relationship with Gd. His service is no longer that of a Canaanite, but of a Jewish bondsman, who although a servant, is at least emotionally tied to and involved with his master. This type of soul serves Gd out of genuine concern, love and awe of Him.
What is a Hebrew maidservant?
The Hebrew daughter is the Neshama level of the soul located in the world of Beriyah. This soul is called a Hebrew maidservant. The world of Beriyah is the world of creation, like the Hebrew word for Genesis which is Bereshit.
Beriyah is the world of the intellect. Someone one who has risen to this level in their soul serves God with the full commitment of his intellect. Beriyah is called ‘world of the throne’ and it corresponds to the first letter HEI in the holy name of God, YKVH.
The next world up is called the world of Atziulut. Atzilut means the world of emanation. The Arizal says one may attain the level of soul from this world. He may attain a Nefesh from Malchut of Atzilut, a Ruach from Tiferet of Atzilut, a Neshamah from Binah of Atzilut or a Chayah from Chochmah of Atzilut.
We see that Chayah (means 'life') level of soul is related to Chochmah for it is written,
“and wisdom (Chochmah) enlivens those who possess it.”
This was the level of the soul of Moses.
If all those levels confuse you, take a look at this visual Rabbi Bakst z'l created to help us better understand the soul spectrum and its levels.
Through the process of ascending the ladder of Divine consciousness the servant soul traverse through the four worlds of Asiyah (physical, behavior, actions) to Yetzirah (emotional involvement) to Beriyah (intellectual involvment) and Atzilut (submission of the self into the reality of Gd) This self nullification does not mean you loose yourself, it means you merge with your higher self and Creator and in this process you become who you where always meant to be.
Once in the world of Atzilut, the soul is no longer termed ‘servant’ of G-d but has so merged with Divinity that it is termed a ‘Son’ of G-d. This is the level of Divine consciousness that defines a tzadik or a righteous person.
Let that sink in for a moment, did the Arizal just tell us that we all have the ability to obtain the Mind of Moses and in that soul ascending process we no longer are a servant but we are called a Son of God.. YES!
Now where have we heard that term before, SON OF G-D? Christians associate Jesus (Yeshua) as THE, son of G-d. Was he the the only son of G-d? NO! The parable or story of Yeshua's life is a foretelling of the souls journey and the highest 33rd level a person can achieve, then the soul becomes transcendent, resurrected and God and Man merge. The story is to tell you we all have the ability in us to become a SON OF G-D, it is through ascending the ladder of Divine consciousness. The SON OF GOD, in Torah terms is the collective soul of the highest level of Moshiach (Messiah) consciousness as we will soon see....
Within this level of Divine consciousness, there are again levels of ascent, as one identifies with God as master of the universe (malchut/nefesh) God’s emotional attributes (midot/ruach) God’s intellect (binah/neshamah) or God’s super intellect, His original insight that gave rise to creation (chochmah/chayah) This is the source of the Torah, and the level of Divine Consciousness attained by Moses, who served as the conduit or channel through which the Torah was given.
For more on the "Mind of Moses" goto Rabbi Bakst's z'l book 'Beyond Kabbalah' to pg. 359
Higher yet, the Arizal states, one may attain a Yechidah level of soul from Arich Anpin of Atzilut. This is the soul level of the Moshiach (Messiah), of whom it is written,
“He will ascend and be exalted and uplifted exceedingly.”
Our sages said this verse means that ‘he will ascend higher than Abraham, be exalted higher than Isaac, be up lifted, higher than Jacob exceedingly higher than Moses.
The Soul of Moshiach (Messiah) is the collective soul of the Yechidah level which means 'singularity' and this level is the collective soul of the Jewish people. This consciousness transcends the limitations of the Torah as it was revealed through Moses and is that of the Torah's inner dimension.
Traversing the Worlds and the Holy Name of G-d
We could say that each soul level corresponds to the Divine Name. The tip of the YUD (Soul level of Moshiach) and the Yud (Soul level of Moses), HEI (Soul level of Jewish Maidservant) VAV (Soul level of Jewish Bondsman) and the Final HEI (Canaanite Slave Woman) all four levels complete the Holy name of G-d, YHVK.
Could we also say that as we move up the ladder of Divine consciousness we complete the Holy Name within us, YHVK, and when we do this we now have arrived at the consciousness of Messiah!
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Apples from the Orchard, by Arizal
Commentary, Dinah Miller