Vayeshev: Chapter 16
"Go in to your brother's wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law"

Rabbi Shimon begins by discussing the responsibility of the righteous man to beget children in order to ensure a place for his soul in the World to Come. By perpetuating the image of the Holy King through offspring, the righteous man may prevent the reincarnation of his soul. Thus, the section addresses the necessity of marriage and of levirate marriage. We are also reminded of the futility and vanity of the individual who endeavors to provide only for himself, without creating a family.


A dark room becomes progressively brighter with each lighting of a new candle. Every soul that comes into this world is likened to a candle. Though true reality, which is our ultimate destination, offers immortality and endless fulfillment, during the course of human spiritual evolution, the Light is temporarily dimmed. Immortality is relegated to the act of procreation and childbearing, which ensures the ongoing entrance of new souls into this world for the purpose of bringing about the final correction of humanity. In other words, the chain of humanity is immortal, while the individual body remains perishable and finite. All men live for the existence of the chain until such time as humanity completes its spiritual correction and transformation. At that juncture, the force of immortality will expand and bring endless life. This transformation, the final redemption, is hastened by bringing new souls into this world, whose Light, through the path of Torah, helps diminish darkness and death and accelerate the process of correction. This Light is also generated through the spiritual influences that radiate from these ancient Aramaic verses.