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Naftali Ben Yaakov and the Secrets of Alacrity

​In Jewish Tradition, there’s very little information on Naftali Ben Yaakov. He was the second son of Bilhah and was compared to a “swift hind” when blessed by his father due to his alacrity when performing Mitzvot. This ability of his was already acknowledged by all his brothers when they sent him to procure Esav’s deed of sale in Egypt, when they were about to bury Yaakov.

​Alacrity is indeed a great personal trait, and there’s much that we can learn about it from a Kabbalistic point of view. Let’s find out!


The Importance of Time in our Lives

​The Sefer Yetzirah divides the cycle of time in 12 zodiac signs, one per month, with their respective permutations of the names of Hashem (יהוה). The months are divided into weeks, days, hours and minutes. Moreover, each hour is also divided into 1080 chalakim (“parts” in Hebrew). While the book doesn’t go into details, every aspect of time has its governing Mazal, including an angel, and a name of Hashem.

This might sound trivial, but in fact it plays a huge role spiritually. The Kabbalists teach that whenever a person is born, that is his governing Mazal, which will influence him/her for the rest of their lives. The date, hour and minute of his birth determine what governing Mazal he will have. This is another aspect that makes each us truly unique!

Rav Chaim Vital even writes that there’s one day in the year for each person in which nothing bad can happen him (presumably this doesn’t mean his birthday). It’s like his “lucky” day, though it might be difficult to find out which is it.

We saw in the previous articles that Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashas’h) teaches that each avodah (“service”) has its own system of elevating the sparks. The Arizal himself writes in Sha’ar HaKavanot that no prayer is ever going to be the same, from the beginning of time until now and from now until the end of times. In light of this, one great Kabbalist adds that “time is the materialization of the sifting of the sparks” and that’s why we have it: each time, Hashem is enabling us to sift and elevate the fallen sparks of Creation by animating them for us.

It is common practice for those who know yichudim (unifications) and kavanot (mystical intentions) to walk while keeping the names of Hashem in their minds. Although this is a very advanced level, in this way, on is always lifting the sparks, wherever he goes. Time, then, is never wasted as he’s constantly connected to Hashem.


The heaviness of physicality and time

Our sages stress alacrity for a very simple, yet elusive reason: time weights our souls down. While most of us have difficulty feeling it, our souls areactually burning with love for Hashem. They want to get closer to Him, and fast. For them, there’s no time to waste! However, our bodies are constantly slowing it down, with demands and laziness of its own. It’s very painful for the soul not to reach its destination.

It’s important to remember that there’s a difference between alacrity and rushing things. Alacrity means wasting no time. Rushing often means doing things in a sloppy way. Just because a person is alacritous, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t stop to think, or slows down to do things in a calculated manner. It just means that your body doesn’t become a barrier.

In the book of Kings, we find that King Shlomo was incredibly fast to build the First Holy Temple, but took his time to build his own palace, so great was his love for Hashem and little care he had for physical comfort. Our sages in the Talmud also relate many stories of when they acted with alacrity. We can relate to the importance of time, when we have to depend on someone, and that person is late, or obnoxiously refusing to doing his work in a timely manner.

There’s a deeper layer to that: since we saw before that each moment has its governing Mazal (and consequent blessing), we don’t want to lose it. We do things fast, because the further we move away from a given goal, the further away the blessing becomes.Even the governing Mazal changes!

Therefore, Naftali teaches us that we can all be alacritous and merit great things. As Yaakov his father finished his blessing “Naftali is a swift dear, who brings pleasant news”, we can learn that doing things like one who goes swift as a dear (without rush!), will merit to bring pleasant news!

May we all merit this blessing!

This article was written in the zechut of Golda Beyla bas Elka for Refuat haNefesh, Yeshayahu ben Chaya, Chaya bas Shayndel,Elka bas Shayndel, Davida bas Shayndel, Liba bas Shayndel,Btzalel Nuchem ben Chaya and Yitzchak Levi ben Chaya. May Hashem help them attain all their hearts desires speedily!

Studying Kabbalah is a huge source of merit that can bring all sorts of salvation to a person’s life. If you want to sponsor to have me study in-depth Kabbalah from the Arizal or the Rashash in your merit and receive its blessings, especially for sustenance, children ❤️

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