(Shmuel [son of Rabbi Chaim Vital] says: I found another very good introduction to chibut hakever [torments of the grave], and this is what it says:) We have explained the matter of chibut hakever previously. We have also mentioned that, as a result of the sin of Adam, there was a combining of good and evil in all souls, as we explained already with respect to Cain and Abel.

This is the secret of the verse, "and Adam called names" (Gen. 2:20). For just as they have souls from holiness, likewise have they names from souls in kelipa. This is so because when Adam sinned through the tree of knowledge he caused souls to be taken from the side of impurity, just as it occurs from the side of holiness.

I have already explained that in the world of Asiya, evil overcomes good since there they are intermingled. However, in the world of Yetzira, they are equal, and in the world of Beriya, good overcomes evil and they are no longer combined.

There are people who have [only] a nefesh from malchut of Asiya of the kelipot, and there are people who have an [entire] NR"N from the kelipot. However, one who does not perform that much evil has [clearly] not received a neshama from the kelipot. He can achieve rectification through teshuvah and by reincarnating into this world and undergoing punishment.

[When the former is the case,] they will be like Jeravam ben Nevat and similar, of whom it is said, "they have no portion in the world-to-come". (Sanhedrin 1:2) That is, rather than have their souls elevated above as M"N, through an upper unification of Abba and Imma who are called the 'world-to-come'; they will ascend only on the level of M"N through a unification of Zu"N.

This explanation settles the question of what about their mitzvot?! And don't all souls have a portion in the world-to-come? (Ibid. 1:1) Rather, they certainly are rewarded for whatever good they did. But certain terrible things they did caused their mitzvot not to be able to elevate them to the highest connection above that which they should have merited.

Mitzvot are drawn from a towering source, way above our world. It is fitting for one who fulfilled them in life to ascend in death to the transcending levels of Abba and Imma. In general, because they are a step beyond, one must give whole self over in order to activate those levels. There are places in prayer that are geared to arouse them. Those places need to be recited accompanied by willingness and intention to give one's very life over for the Divine honor. (Shaar HaKavanot Kri'at Shema)

This does not work for one who was sunk extra deep into physicality. They can only rise to be included in Zu"N - the partzufim from which our world is drawn.

Everything we do below awakens a reciprocal reaction above. Positive actions awaken unifications above. When a person dies, the sum total of all his mitzvot bond and make a grand awakening above. (Zohar Chayei Sara) His soul ascends to be included in this collective unification and derives great delight from it.

However, someone who has NR"N from the kelipot must have their bones rot and eat their flesh. This is the secret of Ruth and Orpah, the latter being the one who returned to her people and her god.1 (Ruth 1) This is also the secret of the verse, "The fool clasps his hands together and has nothing to eat but his own flesh."2 (Eccl. 4:5) They destroy themselves, and in order to separate from this [evil] soul they require chibut hakever.

Even in the land of Israel, a minor amount of chibut hakever is necessary. For it [the bad soul] is already separate from one born in the land of Israel. Nevertheless, it will depend upon the actions of a person, whether they are good or evil.

The intrinsic sanctity of the Land of Israel grants the soul a head-start in purity. Nonetheless, "[The status of] all is [determined] according to the abundance of [one's] actions". (Pirkei Avot)

If one is jealous regarding spiritual matters, [his spiritual station] is as the Sages have written: "A man only becomes jealous over his wife when a spirit of zealotry enters him." (Sota 3a)

"There is no [true] love without jealousy." (Zohar III Naso) A mate feels his partner inside his intrinsic self. From this place he is jealous.

"Jealousy of scholars increases wisdom." (Baba Basra 21a) There is a form of positive jealousy: when someone sees a good quality in someone else and wants to also attain it - without begrudging the other. One feels the good he sees on the outside as being something that is really within, just not manifest.

However, if one is jealous regarding worldly matters - that is a function of the outside forces. As a result his bones will have to rot [to be cleansed of their attachment to the kelipot].

The soul needs to be cleansed of all negative qualities in order to attain its ultimate perfection. (Sefer HaLikutim and Shaar HaGilgulim, parashat Bechukotai) However, jealousy comes from an especially deep place within - the essence. For one who is jealous feels that something belonging to someone else is really his - he feels a part of himself in it and it reaches his essence.

The word for bone, 'etzem', also means essence. The bones are the essential essence of the body. Therefore, only they are left at the end of the death process. From them the body is to be rebuilt at the time of the resurrection. (Talmud) And in them rests the last, lowest piece of the soul that stays below. (Zohar) Improper jealousy defects them, requiring them too to deteriorate in order to cleanse the soul and allow such a person to also eventually be rebuilt.

Similarly, the luz (the primary bone for resurrection) of one who does not bow and say thanks to G‑d is turned into a snake.3 (Baba Kama) Appreciation is also an intrinsic root quality.4 One who lacks it needs a root cleansing in order to become fit for resurrection.

We find this regarding what is said about Rav Achai bar Yeshaya, based upon the verse, "But envy is [causes] rotting of the bones." (Proverbs 14:30) For jealousy regarding worldly matters causes the bones to rot and "like a garment AS"h [a moth] shall devour them." (Isaiah 50:9)

This is the secret of the matter: There are Sh"A/370 lights on the side of holiness. (Zohar III Idra Raba) [At times, another 8 encompassing lights are added to them. (Ibid., Shaar Ruach HaKodesh, 'Yichud D'chivarti')] When they become 378 it totals the words chashmal [fiery radiance (Chagiga 13a)] and 'malbush' [clothing]. This is because the 378 lights become like clothing and a covering that envelopes the four worlds, ABY"A, as a result [of which], the outside forces have no power over them.

The intense radiation of the upper triad shines to the power of hundreds. The lesser lower seven shine to the power of tens. When they all smile and radiate, 370 brilliances grace the world - providing much love and mercy.

At times of extra favor, another "eight white lights" shine from the 'skull' of keter. This provides a kind of spiritual lightning [chashmal] that the worlds don as a garment which provides extra protection.

It is well-known that four garments enclothe the worlds ABY"A, and each garment [progressively down the ladder] is denser than the other. The thickest of all belongs to Asiya, since that [being the lowest area] is the principle place that the kelipot latch onto.

And just as there are 370 Lights on the side of holiness, so are there also on the side of the chitzonim [outside forces]. They are called the opposite: ASh. This is the secret of the verse, "like a garment, ASh [a moth] will devour them" - a devouring moth is the one who eats and causes the bones to rot.5

Hence is there also a concept of 'tolai'a' [a worm] from the side of holiness in the secret of "tola’as shani" [scarlet wool] (Ex. 25:4) and in the secret of, "Fear not tola’at Ya’akov [the worm of Jacob]." (Isaiah 41:14) Its letters form the name ABGYT"Ts, which has the gematria of tola’a. This is the secret of the [first row and] chesed-[name] that is in the seven [six-letter sub-]names of the 42-letter name. And it [also hints to] the "kohen" [priest, who is rooted in chesed], of whom it says, "VNTN/V’natan [and give] to the kohen the foreleg and cheek." (Deut. 18:3) The word "v’natan" also has the [same] gematria of the name we mentioned [tola’a = 510] and that of the word ShR/shor [ox], of which the Talmud writes, "a black ox in the month of Nissan". (Brachot 33a) For the 42-Letter Name is one of strong gevurot (Eitz Chaim) [and the ox is rooted in the left side above6, the source of gevurot].

Scarlet wool was used for the curtains of the Sanctuary, the place where the 370 lights are most manifest. (Zohar) "Our father Ya'akov never died." (Ta'anit 5b) He reached a level of perfection that transcended mortality. Consequently, even though his offspring must pass through death, they have a special imprint of holiness in them that protects.7 Therefore does the verse ensure the 'worm of Ya'akov' of his safety and that there is no need to harbor worries.

The seven sub-names of the 42-letter name parallel the seven sefirot. Accordingly, the first row is chesed, the energy that the 370 protecting lights emanate. In souls, kohen comes from chesed. (Zohar III Emor) The motion of chesed is giving, hence giving mentioned by the kohen shares the gematria of the chesed name. Even though it actually refers to the portion that G‑d commands the rest of the people to give to the kohen - this itself: Because the kohen gives so much, he is rewarded and granted special gifts.

Why then is the next link to the infamous ox, a creature who embodies the left side of gevura? In order for the light of chesed/giving to be true, it must be contained in a fitting restricting gevura/restraint vessel. Part of expanding in giving involves constricting to preserve giving and keep it in context and good. If someone wants mustard on a sandwich, don't deliver a whole barrel to his table! Even though something, let us say steak, is the best food, limit your giving and feed the baby you love baby food.

And so, even though "the world is made for chesed" (Psalms 89:3), it comes garbed in gevura. The world was made with the 42-letter name. (Zohar I Breishit, Tikunei Zohar) Its initial row comes, of course, from chesed. But as a whole it stems from gevura.

This all explains the association train of concepts mentioned in this paragraph.

Correspondingly, there is the concept of a 'worm' on the side of the kelipot. One that eats the flesh of the dead in the grave, of which it says, "The fool holds his hands together and has nothing to eat but his own flesh." (Eccl. 4:5) And, "If it [sin] will be tolai'a [red as crimson], it shall become [white] as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

However, one who is righteous in this world can rectify everything during his lifetime, as we saw with respect to Rav Achai bar Yeshaya, who was never jealous over worldly matters - a jealousy that stems from the kelipot. Therefore, neither death nor tolai'a [worms] nor ASh [a moth] had any effect on him. As King David wrote, "Even my flesh will dwell in safety." (Psalms 16:9) To the extent that you have four people who, even though they died, did so only because of the bite of the snake [but their flesh remained safe - free of chibut hakever and decapitation].

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]