Let us explain what the nature of this slumber is. It is known that sleep represents the removal of one’s cognitive powers, the person’s intellect. Still, the Arizal explains that a person’s cognitive abilities always remain, even when he sleeps, for without any consciousness he would die from the lack of life-force.[1] Therefore, during the time of sleep, a constricted level of consciousness enlivens him until he awakens from his slumber and returns to the expanded consciousness of wakeful living. Indeed, during the time of slumber, the mind is sleeping, but the primary systems continue to function in order to maintain the body’s life-force during sleep.

Furthermore, the Arizal explains that even at the time of death, there is a droplet of life-force that remains within the bones in the grave. This droplet draws a faint measure of life-force which will allow the bones to rise to eternal life. This is the secret of “halvah d’garmi”, a vapor of life that remains bound to the bones all the while a person is in the grave, until techiyas hameisim.

Just as this takes place within the life of the individual, the same applies to the nation as a whole, as the Arizal explains.[2] The same applies to am Yisrael in their exile which is likened to death – their life-force is extremely constricted, matching the disjointed limbs, just like a person lying in the grave. This is what we saw earlier in the words of the Gra – the life-force of am Yisrael in exile is the “halvah d’garmi”, also called the “kusta d’chiyusa” (“kernel of life”), which found within the bones that lay in the grave.

The meaning of this constricted life-force is the secret of Mochin D’Katnus (“constricted-consciousness”) which matches our state in exile, the crumbling of the body into many shards. This consciousness brings life to these disparate shards and serves as the basis for our perception of life’s purpose and avodas Hashem in the days of our exile – the avodah of each individual cell on its own. For there is no doubt that our life-force is avodas Hashem which connects us to Hashem and draws down life and continuity. During the period of exile, the level of an expanded way of living of the body as a whole, as a living person whose soul is still within him, is unable to be revealed within us. Therefore, only a slight spark rests on each limb and each individual cell, investing it with a little bit of life so that the body will be able to arise once more to eternal life.

This constricted consciousness is like the intellect of a child who thinks only about himself and is unable to expand his perceptions to enter the experience of another. Certainly, then, he is unable to feel the true oneness that exists between himself and another, for all of am Yisrael is literally one entity. For this is the nature of a child who is always preoccupied with himself and his own world, who thinks that the details of his life are all there is, and that nothing exists beyond them. Therefore, the entire substance of his concern is focused on himself and his contentment alone.  

Exile is likened to death and to sleep. Therefore, the redemption is likened to rising up from the dust and waking up from sleep – “Arise and waken, you who sleep in the earth.” (Yeshayahu 26:19) The meaning of this waking up is itself the secret of the return of Mochin D’Gadlus (“expanded consciousness) like a person who wakes up from his sleep, whose mind returns to its fully functioning state with clarity and completion. So it is with regard to our waking up from the sleep of exile – the return of the life force and cognition of a living person instead of shattered shards that stand alone.


[1] Shaar HaKavanos, Derushei HaLaylah 6, Shaar HaPesukim parshas Vayeishev, Mevo Shearim 3:2, 17, and other sources.

[2] Eitz Chaim, 36:2. “B’sod Shchivah L’Afra”, Sefer HaLikutim, parshas Toldos. Shaar Maamrei Rashbi, parshas Bamidbar. The same applies for the male spectrum, see Derushei Pesach with regard to the “Mochin D’Ibbur” which remain forever, as well as Shaar HaKavanos, Drushei Kriyas Shema, among many other sources.

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Rav Reuven Sasson
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