Two Trees of Gan Eden - 70 Souls - 70 Nations
The Ohr HaHayyim teaches that the souls of man were planted into the two Trees that grew in Gan Eden. On a spiritually elevated plateau is the Tree of Life, associated with the mystical dimension of Binah (World of Beri'ah). Though this Tree contains 70 branches, it manifests itself as a single unified force. Beneath it, planted in a spiritually inferior terrain is the Tree of Knowledge ‐ Good and Evil. It likewise has 70 aspects, but here, the aspects all manifest themselves as distinct forces.
Souls of Tree of Knowledge - 70 Distinct Nations
As a result of the sin of the Tower of Babel, Hashem directed the souls associates with the Tree of Good and Evil into 70 distinct nations who would converse in 70 distinct languages. He assigned each branch of souls its own ministering angel to lead them in the celestial realm. As it says in Devarim (32:8) "When the Most High gave nations their heritage and split up the sons of man...He set up the borders...." In their assigned spiritual borders, the nations remain constantly subject to the impurities of their soul root ‐ the Tree of Good and Evil. This is the spiritual inferior dimension where Evil has access; beneath the dimension of Binah, known as the realm of the Seven Lower dimensions (Worlds of Yesirah and Asiyah).
Souls of Tree of Life - 70 Make Up the Unique Soul of Israel
With the birth of Yaakov, a pure soul with its roots in the Tree of Life emerged. A soul associated with Adam HaRishon prior to his partaking of the Tree of Knowledge ‐Good and Evil. This is what the Talmud (BM 84) alludes to when it describes the beauty of Yaakov's soul and compares it with the soul of Adam prior to the sin. After enumerating the family of Yaakov the Torah writes, "Thus on entering Egypt, the house of Yaakov totaled 70 souls ‐ שבעים נפש .The Shelah explains that the entire nation is considered a single entity.
This is why the Torah refers to these 70 as נפש ‐ a single soul already at the time of their descent into Egypt. This paralleling the Tree of Life which expresses itself as a single force with 70 cohesive aspects. This Tree; unlike the Tree of Knowledge is under the rule of God alone. As it says in Devarim 32:8, "But his own nation remained God's portion ..." Additionally 4:19, "He took you and removed you from the iron crucible ‐ Egypt to be for him his very own nation."
Though these souls have their source in the Tree of Life ‐ they descended from their lofty level as a result of certain transgressions. They therefore required exile as a unit in order to be cleansed of transgressions associated with their souls. That is why it was only until all 70 aspects of their unified soul had been born; do they descend to Egypt for cleansing.
Souls Above and Souls Below
The Torah in Devarim 32:8 teaches, "He set up the borders of nations to parallel the number of Israel's descendants.." Namely, that the 70 nations enumerated at the end of Parashat Noah somehow parallel the number of Yaakov's descendants who go down to Egypt. Is the Torah merely advising us that each group totals 70? That point is obvious from anyone who can read the Torah! What exactly is the Torah trying to convey to us about this relationship?
In order to understand this relationship, we need to reiterate their differences in spiritual make up. The 70 souls of the family of Yaakov are described as emanating from a single unit while the latter are 70 distinct nations. The secret behind the matter is that Israel is rooted above in the spiritual dimension of Binah; a single force with 70 cohesive branches. This being the level of the Tree of Life. No evil is associated with their soul root ‐ only Life!
The nations on the other hand are sourced in the Seven Lower dimensions beneath Binah and express themselves as 70 distinct parts. This being the level of the Tree of Knowledge; a realm subject to the forces of Evil. The concept of Binah being a single unit and the lower dimensions expressed as seven (70) individual units is alluded to in the Seder HaAvodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippour. When sprinkling the blood he directs אחת למעלה ושבע למטה ; One above (a reference to Binah) and seven below a reference to the Seven Lower dimensions. We all recall counting as follows אחת אחת ואחת אחת ושתים ... One (above), One (above) and One (below), One (above) and Two (below)...
Souls of Tree of Life - Support the Throne of God
Binah, the dimension of the Tree of Life is synonymous with a realm where the unified people of Israel can cleave to the Creator. There, God is perceived as sitting on a throne. See Melakhim I 22:19 ‐ "Therefore, listen to the word of YHVH. I have seen YHVH upon his throne ..." The floor of the throne is Binah (Beri'ah), supported by Israel. Misconduct or disunity amongst Israel in the terrestrial world undermines the floor upon which the throne is based. As long as we as a nation preform properly, we experience an affinity with the Tree of Life and uphold the throne of the Creator.
Result of Failure - National and Individual Levels
If we fail on a national level to uphold the throne we descend into exile; namely into the domain beneath Binah ‐ associated with of the Tree of Good and Evil. We are no longer free to unify unabated the 70 facets of Torah or to be ruled by the 70 elders or sages of the Sanhedrin. Rather we descend to a sphere where the nations exist as 70 distinct parts.
In this realm it is almost impossible to unify amongst ourselves as Evil pervades these dimensions. On an individual level, if one commits certain severe sins that are subject to a punishment known as כרת ‐ he will in turn cause his particular branch to be cut off from the Tree of Life. This resulting in the individual transgressors descent into the domain below; with all of its impurities.
Remedy for Individual Failure
God provides a remedy known as Teshuva ‐ or a method of return to the domain of the Tree of Life. The penitent must elevate himself to reattach his branch back onto its source. In his inner world all his forces and 70 years of life must be directed in unity.
Remedy for the Nation - The 70 Above (Israel) Preparing for the 70 below Nations
On a national level our return is seen as a two step process. The first consists of our attempt to unify once again as a single source. In order to reach a state of perfection our multiple parts must all be unify as a single nefesh. As we say in the Amida of Shabbat Minha, "Israel is a singular nation."
The second is to prepare and transition the world toward the messianic era. As the 70 nations prepare to exit a domain subject to impurities (Tree of knowledge ‐ Good and Evil) and submit ideologically and spiritually to a higher level (Tree of Life) where the 70 integrates into 1. Israel is perfectly suited to assist the global community in this matter as a light to the nations.
The Final Era - All Prepare to Nourish from the Tree of Life
On Sukkot, we prepare ourselves and the 70 nations to herald in this new era. We thereby offer 70 oxen during this 7 day holiday on behalf of the nations. While Shemini Aseret culminates with a single ox being offered. The time is also known as Hag HaAsif; the time of the gathering. When under the united rule of Mashiah, the 70 nations will gather ‐ initially passing through the stones set up at the entrance to the Land of Israel upon which the Torah was written in the 70 languages (Devarim 27:8 ‐ Sotah 32).
This appears as a reference to their ascent to be able to suckle from the words of Torah which is the physical manifestation of the Tree of Life. As is written regarding the Torah עץ חיים היא ‐ The Torah is as the Tree of Life. At that time the Jewish people will unify as one and then integrate all of humanity under the influence of the one God all nourishing from the Tree of Life.