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Kabbalah teaches that many of our accomplishments are due to the nature of our soul.

2:8 Granting the Soul Its Due Credit

2:8 Granting the Soul Its Due Credit


"Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai…used to say, 'If you have learned much Torah, do not claim special credit for yourself, since for this you were created.'" (Avot 2:8)

The Kabbalists, of blessed memory, wrote that a Torah scholar who introduces many original Torah insights should know that he has a great soul, in which is included many [spiritual soul-]roots. And it is for this reason that [the above Mishna] says, "If you have learned much Torah…", meaning that G‑d has granted you wisdom and expanded your borders [i.e. consciousness] in order to author books in the sea of Talmudic wisdom, Jewish law, and mystical exegesis - "…don't claim credit for yourself", saying that in the strength of my learning and my efforts I accomplished all these feats - "…since for this you were created", meaning not in your own power and strength of your hand [did this come about], but rather due to the fact that your soul is great [by its very nature] and its [various] portions are many. It is because of this that your success and has exceeded beyond that of the level of the scholars of your generation. And this is hinted to by the word "for this" [in Hebrew, "l'kach", spelled lamed, kaf, kaf, = 30+20+20], which the numerical value of seventy, hinting at the "seventy faces of the Torah".

The Sages teach that there are seventy archetypal ways of understanding the Torah. These correspond to the seventy soul-roots of the House of Jacob, who descended to Egypt with our forefather. Here, the Ben Ish Chai is teaching that, due to the manifestation of a number of soul-roots within a person, an individual may be privy to many of the seventy refractions of the light of Torah.

[Translated by Baruch Emanuel Erdstein from Zecut Avot]

Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad is best known by the name of his most famous work, "Ben Ish Chai". 5594-5669 (1834-1909 CE) Prolific leader of Persian Jewry and an important kabbalist. In addition to many works on Jewish law and Talmud, he authored many kabbalistic commentaries.
Baruch Emanuel Erdstein was an associate editor of for five of the ten years he resided in the Old City of Safed, intensely studying Kabbalah He currently resides in Emmanuel, Israel. Originally from Detroit, he has an honors degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has worked in cross-cultural and Jewish education for over a decade.
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