A. Biur HaGr”a on Zohar, Parshas Pekudei (Sha’am printing: p.
30 column 4) states: “Pinchas is Eliyahu; and the reason that he
was later called Eliyahu and not by his original name is because
when a person increases his good deeds, a new soul is renewed
for him, and all the previous ones are annulled for him. This is
the secret of the righteous men of early generations who each
had many names; each time they were called by a different
name. For every neshama (soul) has a different name. And
Pinchas merited that a new neshama—which was called
Eliyahu—should clothe his soul.”
This concept is paramount to our faith. Oftentimes, a Jew
acknowledges that he harbors the potential to strive and
progress in his avodas Hashem (service of Hashem), yet he
desists since he fears that he will never attain the loftiest levels
of spirituality and holiness for which he strives. However, not
only is this not an excuse to avoid striving, but indeed, it is also
possible that his constant, concerted effort to serve Hashem will
result in his acquiring a new neshama. This fresh neshama can
then endow him with new, fantastic spiritual strengths that will
allow him to attain the greatest heights in Torah study and
avodas Hashem, spiritual levels of which he never even
B. Biur HaGr”a on Zohar, Parshas Pekudei p. 31 column 4 cites a
Heichal of the Zohar and expands: “Any aspiration and desire for
dveikus that a person acquires is rooted in this Heichal.
Although the bounty derives from above, the preparation and
desire must be founded within the person’s soul.” It is written
that the person’s service is parallel to the bounty that he
receives, and the same applies to the upper worlds and even the
sefiros (spiritual spheres), etc.”
This statement contains a paramount and relevant message:
Even if a person believes that he does not own the spiritual
potential to succeed and achieve the dveikus or intensity in
learning that he craves, he must know that he is sorely
mistaken. Moreover, he must recognize that those occasions
that allow him to believe that he will succeed and that he does
harbor the potential for greatness are not drawn from within his
soul, but are a gift from Hashem Yisborach. However, there are
times when this awesome gift is an outcome of his devoted
service of Hashem, and he is deserving of it. Hence, even at times
when he feels remotely distanced from Hashem and spiritual
growth, he should continually strive, endeavor and beseech
Hashem Yisborach for help, and Hashem will surely have mercy
upon him and grant him the courage and power to achieve his
C. Biur HaGr”a on the Zohar, in the Lukutim following Parshas
Pinchas p. 31 column 2 states: “And from this you will learn
great mystical secrets regarding the spiritual defects of sins [that
cause] the spirit to depart from the soul, even when he is living,
and this is why ‘The wicked are called dead even during their
lifetimes,’ and one who performs mitzvos is called a ‘Living
There are times when a person feels that he lacks spiritual
strength in his soul and that he has lost the powers to serve
Hashem that he once possessed. Sometimes, these feelings are
merely obsessive worrying, and there is nothing to fear.
However, there are unfortunately times when there is truth to
the person’s fears, and it is possible that his sins caused an
aspect of his soul to depart.
In such cases, the ideal recourse is teshuva (repentance). A
person must regret his evil ways and return wholeheartedly to
Hashem Yisborach. Then, he must continually endeavor to
enhance his service of Hashem until the heavens restore the
missing aspect of his soul. Even if he does not merit regaining
his previous spiritual level, he should never desist in his service
of Hashem. Rather, he should double his efforts and continue
persisting until he perseveres. He must never despair of
regaining his goal and previous spiritual strengths, as
emphasized in the Biur HaGr”a on Tikkunim (Zohar HaChadash,
p. 49 column 2-3), “A Jew can never despair of achieving the
lofty spiritual levels that he once possessed. Even if he is
presently unable to attain these levels, the heavens safeguard
them and allow him to reclaim them whenever he is spiritually
D. Biur HaGr”a, Parshas Vayera p. 27 column 1 writes that the
Shechina (Divine Presence) will never depart from one who is
meritorious , until it leads him to his final resting place, as
written, “Righteousness will walk before him, and place its
footsteps upon the way;” “How beautiful are your footsteps in
shoes, etc.”
Every individual merits seeing the Shechina before his demise. A
wicked person glimpses briefly; but the Shechina quickly
absconds, and the Angel of Death then inflicts terrible pain upon
him and takes his soul with the most painful death possible (see
Brachos 8a). However, the Shechina itself removes the soul of a
tzaddik (righteous person) with a kiss, as the tzaddik said, “Do
not pass from upon your servant.” (See there.)
E. Biur HaGr”a on Tikkunei HaZohar, Tikkun 58 p.106 column 4
states: “This is as it is with every one of man’s sin, just as Odom
[HaRishon] lost his spiritual radiance [as described in Sefer Shaar
HaGilgulim—see there], which Chanoch inherited, despite the
fact that he performed a mighty repentance. The same occurred
with Bnei Yisrael when they sinned with the Golden Calf. Indeed,
a baal teshuva (one who repents) is lowered in the bounty of this
world that is described above. Only Dovid merited regaining his
former spiritual level because of all that he did to achieve it, and
this took him several years.”
(See source to study the subject on a deeper level.) This is a
formidable message, one that underscores how difficult it is for
a person to achieve complete spiritual rectification through
repentance. (Also see Biur HaGr”a on the Zohar HaChadash, Rus
p. 106 to understand the concept of a gilgul (reincarnated soul)
and how it applies to the above. This will all be understood in
the times of Mashiach (Messiah) and the Resurrection of the
Dead. In the continuation of this section, the Vilna Gaon relates
that this concept was revealed to him.)
F. Biur HaGr”a on Zohar, Parshas Shlach p. 16 column 4 states:
“This is the way of nature, but all is governed and watched by
Hashem, for “Man does not move a finger below unless the
heavens decree it so from above,” (Chulin 7b) and “A little bird is
not trapped.” This is referring to Yerushalmi Shvi’is Ch. 9:5, p.
25b. cited by Tosfos Avodah Zara 16b that if a tiny bird is not
trapped without Hashem’s consent, certainly a person will not
be trapped without Hashem willing it to be. (See ibid for
complete discussion.)
“The laws of nature are the messengers that fulfill all that is
decreed in the heavens. Hashem commands whether one will be
rich or poor; Hashem decrees who will be lost and who will be
found. He does not perform a miracle to create money or rule
that money will grow from any place. These are the laws of
“This resembles the parable of a king sitting in his
magnificent throne in the royal court when he sees a person on
the right side and an animal on the left, and he sends the person
food—wheat—through a variety of strategies and tactics, with
wheels and ropes, until it reaches him; and he sends the animal
barley without either one realizing that it came from the king.
They both think that the one who provided it was the messenger
that stood closest to them. The king then spreads a large net to
carry them to their destination, and when the time comes,
pulls the net and the man is trapped by his neck, and his mind
allows him to imagine that it happened by chance and that it is
all because of the forces of nature. Indeed, it is written,
“Everything is a concealed miracle, and only manifest miracles
are performed by the Name Hava-ya, as is known.”
G. Biur HaGr”a on Zohar, Parshas Mishpatim p. 10 column 3
states: “Until he learns Shas, and then he will learn the secrets of
the Torah, and from there he will achieve inner fear and he will
strive to [serve Hashem] not for the sake of reward, and then he
will have attained the spiritual level of Atzilus, as written, ‘If
there is no fear, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is
no fear.’ The explanation is that the first statement refers to
external fear and the simple meaning of Torah, but the second
statement refers to Kabbalah and a sincere, inner fear.”
[Despite intensive searching, the author has yet to discover
the source of the Vilna Gaon’s exact text, ‘If there is no fear,
there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no fear.’ Avos
3:17 refers to this concept of Torah study and fear of heaven. See
also Avos 2:5; Avos 3:9; Avos 3:17; Shabbos 31a, b; Yuma 2b;
Sefer Nefesh HaChaim Shaar D Ch. 4, 5; Biur HaGr”a on Zohar,
Parshas Pekudei, Heichalos, p.291a (in the new printing—p.23
columns 1-2) regarding the concept of Yichudim.
H. Tikkunei HaZohar, Likutim p. 100b column 3 places fear
before Torah in its order of levels of spiritual greatness, as
follows, ‘One whose fear of sin precedes Torah, his Torah is
realized,’ (Avos 3:9). Thereafter, he presents love and ‘An
ignoramus is not one who is pious,’ as one who is a total
ignoramus of even societal norms cannot fear sin.
The above refers to two levels of spiritual deficiency:
A. An ignoramus who does not even conform to societal
B. An ignoramus who conforms to societal norms but does
not learn Torah.
These two levels parallel the spiritual levels of fearing sin and
piety, which is an even loftier spiritual level of love. One who is
an ignoramus can never become pious, although he can achieve
the level of yiras cheit (fear of sin). Hence, yiras cheit leads a Jew
to achieve Torah and Torah leads one to achieve love of Hashem.