The Magician and the Sorcerer

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah describes the spiritual roots of the wickedness of witchcraft

I see fit to explain here the characters of Balak and Balaam, who were unrivaled magicians and sages. As our sages have said, in one respect Balak was inferior to Balaam, and in another Balaam was inferior to Balak.

The Zohar (III: 184b) also speaks at length about Balak and Balaam, noting that [the former] is called "Balak the son of Tzipor" because of his wisdom; he performed magic using a certain bird.

Balak…owed his magical powers to a bird…

"Tzipor" in Hebrew means "bird"; thus, "Balak the son of Tzipor" means "Balak, who owed his magical powers to a bird."

We note also their unbounded and unfounded hatred of the Jewish people. No other people [exhibited such hatred] save Amalek, who also hated the Jewish people greatly.

chanoch adds: we ask who is “their”? Is it Balak and Bilaam? Or is it also the Nation of Amalek? Or is it all three?

I therefore wish to base the explanation of this matter on the statement of the Zohar (III:199b) that "King David said, 'For behold, the wicked draw the bow; they aim their arrow….' They said, Amalek means 'The people [in Hebrew, "am"] that lick [in Hebrew, "lak"]', i.e. the people that lick [their sustenance] from us…. Balak means 'Come [in Hebrew, "ba"] to lick ["lak"]'…. Balaam means 'the non- [in Hebrew, "bal"] people ["am"].' What letters remain? Those that spell 'depth' [in Hebrew, "omek"]. He confused their deep thoughts so that they could not rule, and they did not remain in the world…"

"Balaam" is spelled beit-lamed-ayin-mem.

"Balak" is spelled beit-lamed-kuf.

"Amalek" is spelled ayin-mem-lamed-kuf.

The Zohar here notes that the names "Balaam", "Balak", and "Amalek" are phonetically inter-related. The first two letters of "Balaam" and "Balak" are the same; the last two letters of "Balak" and "Amalek" are the same; and the first two letters of "Amalek" are the same as the last two letters of "Balaam". Furthermore, the letters of the names "Balak" and "Balaam" that are not common to both spell "Amalek". These phenomena will be used later.

Amalek is the waste product of evil that was separated out of Cain…

Know that all these things are based on the transmigration of the souls [of these nations] and [the significance of] their origins. Amalek is the waste product of evil that was separated out of [the soul of] Cain, the son of Adam.

As we will see, there was a good and an evil aspect to Cain's soul. The evil was separated from the good and became the source of Amalek.

This is one of the five types of [spirituality embodied in] the mixed multitude that became intermixed with the Jews. These [five types] were the Amalekites, the Rephaim, etc., as mentioned in the Zohar (I:25a; Tikunei Zohar 50, 86a) that in the Mixed Multitude there was an admixture of the evil of [the souls of] both Cain and Abel.

Therefore, Amalek hated Israel greatly, as it is stated further on in Scripture, that the Kenites follow the Amalekites.

As far as I can tell, this refers to the fact that in Balaam's prophecies concerning what will happen in the messianic future (Num. 24:14-24), his prophecy concerning the Kenites (ibid. 24:21-22) follows his prophecy concerning the Amalekites (ibid. 24:20). The Kenites [in Hebrew, "Keini", spelled kuf-yud-nun-yud] are evidently etymologically related to Cain [in Hebrew, "Kayin", spelled kuf-yud-nun, ibid. 24:22]

For the good in Cain was separated out into Jethro, who is called "Chever the Kenite", i.e. who was separated out of Cain, that is, from the evil of Cain, which [then became] Amalek.

Spiritually, thus, Jethro derives from the good part of Cain while Amalek derives from the evil part of Cain. The fact that Jethro is called "Chever the Kenite" alludes to his spiritual descent from Cain, just as the juxtaposition of Amalek and the Kenites in Balaam's prophecies alludes to the spiritual descent of Amalek from Cain.

Balak and Balaam both comprised both evils: the evil of Cain and the evil of Abel. Therefore both their names contain the letters beit-lamed from Abel.

As was explained previously, on the verse "And he saw the angel of G‑d in the heart of [in Hebrew, "belabat"] the fire within the bush" (Ex. 3:2), the only part of Abel that was rectified was the [first] letter [of his name, the] hei, this being the last letter [of the name Havayah]. It signifies the good of Abel, and it was given to Moses.

We have seen previously that Moses was a reincarnation of Abel. We see here that it was specifically the hei of Abel's name [in Hebrew, "Hevel"] that became reincarnated in Moses.

The remaining two letters, beit-lamed, were not rectified, and they embodied the evil of Abel. They were given to Balak and Balaam, as the first two letters of their respective names.

The evil of Cain that was mixed into them is also alluded to in their names, for we already stated that the evil of Cain is Amalek, and the first three letters of "Amalek" [spelled ayin-mem-lamed] were given to Balaam and the last letter [kuf] remained for Balak.

Balaam: beit-lamed-ayin-mem; beit-lamed from Abel and lamed-ayin-mem from Amalek.

Balak: beit-lamed-kuf; beit-lamed from Abel and kuf from Amalek.

The lamed of Balaam here does double-duty: it signifies part of the beit-lamed of Abel and the ayin-mem-lamed of Amalek.

Nonetheless, even though both Balaam and Balak embodied the evils of Cain and Abel, Balak mainly expressed the evil of Cain and Balaam mainly expressed the evil of Abel.

The Arizal now explains how this is so.

The character of Balak is alluded to in the verse "And Balak, the son of Tzipor, saw…." [Balak] was a descendant of Jethro, of whom it is said, "The bird [in Hebrew, "tzipor"] has also found its home…" (Psalms 84) Jethro was the father of Tzipporah, the wife of Moses, as mentioned in the Zohar (III: 3:196b). Jethro took the good [of Cain for himself] and thus became a permitted bird. He transmitted the evil [of Cain] to his offspring, i.e. Balak, who was descended from Jethro, as mentioned there [in the Zohar]. We have already explained (Shaar HaGilgulim, introduction 32 [34a]) that the soul [Neshama] of Cain was reincarnated in Jethro and the spirit [Ruach] of Cain in the prophet Samuel.

Jethro's connection to Balak is alluded to by the fact that he named his daughter Tzipporah, i.e. "the bird of the [holiness of G‑d's name, represented by the letter] hei [of His name]". By so doing, he indicated that he had rectified part of Cain's soul and had identified with the good in it. The evil, indicated by the word "tzipor" without the hei, the plain bird, was passed on to Balak, the son of Tzipor.

We have explained on several occasions that Balaam is derived chiefly from Abel, this being the mystical meaning of [our sages' statement on] the verse, "And there arose in Israel no other prophet like Moses," meaning that in Israel there arose no [such prophet], but amongst the nations there did arise [a comparable prophet], i.e. Balaam. (Bamidbar Rabba 14:34)

Balaam embodied the evil of Abel…

We also explained, [in our comments] on the verse "Behold, Milcah gave birth to children, she as well, from your brother Nahor" (Gen. 22:20) that the initial letters of the words for "she, children from your brother" [in Hebrew, "hi banim leNachor"] spell the name "Abel". This indicates that Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramite, was an incarnation of Abel. All his family was also from [the same soul-root] as we have explained in our comments to the story of the Golden Calf.

One of the children of Nahor (Abraham's brother) and Milcah enumerated in this verse is Bethuel, the father of Laban.

This is especially so in light of what you have already learned, namely, that Laban himself was reincarnated in Balaam.

Thus, Balaam embodied the evil of Abel.

You must know [also] what type of admixture there is between Balak and Balaam.

We have explained [in our comments] on the verse "And Rachel stole her father's terafim" (Gen. 25), that the middle third of tiferet of Zeir Anpin, which is located at its chest, is where the lights of yesod of Imma begin to be revealed. At that level, behind [Zeir Anpin], is where the keter of Rachel begins, and within [the keter of Rachel] are vested the two heels of the feet of Leah. This is the location of the terafim.

The terafim were idols; Rachel intended to stop her father from serving idols by stealing them from him when she left his home.

Yesod of Imma is the drive of the intellect to express itself in the emotions. Although this drive is what gives birth to Zeir Anpin, the partzuf of the emotions, it is subdued throughout the initial, higher stages of its development, i.e. its own intellect and the primary emotions of chesed and gevura. Only at the level of tiferet - and at that, the middle level of tiferet, not the higher part of tiferet that is basically the interface between it and the primary emotions - does the intellect's drive to express itself as emotion begin to be revealed. For it is at this level that true awareness of the other occurs. Chesed and gevura, although they are the impetuses to give or withhold from another, are primarily concerned with their own needs to give or withhold. Tiferet is where true awareness of the needs of the recipient comes into play, i.e. empathy.

As we have explained previously, there are two principle iterations of Nukva of Zeir Anpin, two "mates" or means of expression the emotions flow through. The higher one is Leah, or thought, and the lower one is Rachel, or speech. Since speech is an expression of the emotions that have been processed through thought, the lower level (the "heel") of Leah becomes the highest level (keter) of Rachel.

The evil of Balak and Balaam, which we are seeing derived here, can come to be only when Rachel is back to back with Zeir Anpin. This, we know, is the initial state when these partzufim are created. As we have seen previously, whenever the male and female are not in full spiritual union there is an opening for evil to draw sustenance.

[For the full explanation of this,] see there at length. But the idea in short is this:

We already know - from our discussion of walking four cubits in the Land of Israel - that the radiance of chesed and gevura [of Abba] present in the yesod of Abba eventually reaches Leah. In addition, we know that Leah originates from the malchut of Imma, which is vested in Zeir Anpin. Thus, there are lights of both Abba and Imma in Leah.

Abba is insight, or abstract intellect, while Imma is applied intellect…

Abba is insight, or abstract intellect, while Imma is applied intellect. Thought derives from applied intellect, since thought is the most natural means for intellect to express itself. Malchut of Imma is the expression of intellect. Nonetheless, something of the inspiration of Abba also is present in thought, for as we have explained previous, the initial purity of insight of chochma must be present together with bina to keep the flow of thought from going astray.

Now, Leah's head is situated behind the daat of Zeir Anpin, in which is vested the yesod of Abba, in which [in turn] is vested the lights of chesed and gevura [of Abba, as we have just stated]. The yesod [of Abba] itself is vested in the yesod of Imma, in which is vested as well other lights of chesed and gevura. The yesod of Imma is vested in the middle cavity of the skull of Zeir Anpin, which is the seat of its daat.

Leah, being thought, is situated opposite the upper half of Zeir Anpin. As we have seen, the lights (mentalities, energies, consciousness) of Abba and Imma are concealed as they descend through the upper half of Zeir Anpin, becoming revealed only from Zeir Anpin's tiferet and below.

Thus, when the lights of Imma shine into Leah, they have to break through two barriers: the vessel of yesod of Imma and the vessel [i.e. the skull] of the head of Zeir Anpin. Only then can they issue outward and enter the head of Leah, then spreading through her entire length, reaching her heels, and becoming vested in the keter of Rachel, as we have described.

Now, it is explained in our comments on the passage regarding the terafim that here [i.e. the keter of Rachel] is the position of the heels of Leah, which herself is complete judgment - since she derives from diminished lights that issue from the location of the concealed lights, which issue only by breaking through [the barriers,] as we said. [Her nature of complete judgment] is particularly apparent in her heels, which express harsh judgment.

Leah is principally judgment, since she derives from the lights of Abba and Imma that are hidden within the upper half of Zeir Anpin (as opposed to how they become revealed when they descend to the lower half of Zeir Anpin, as we said). Since these lights are concealed, Leah does not benefit from the broad perspective of uncontextualized intellect. Thought is a process of weeding out invasive thoughts and focusing on the idea on which the individual wishes to think about. Thought is thus a phenomenon of judgment, of rejecting competing thoughts.

The heels express harsh judgment because they are hard skin, designed to be impervious to attacks from thorns and rough ground.

For this reason, the forces of evil can derive sustenance from this level, and a radiance of the said lights of Imma that spread down to Leah's heels, which break through into the keter of Rachel's head and enter into it, as we said, issue outside, and the forces of evil latch on to it.

As we have seen previously, even though the purpose of judgmental attitudes is to preserve the integrity of holiness, its downside is that when it gets wrapped up in its own momentum it begins to focus on the negative aspects of all parts of reality, turning on the good it intended originally to protect. This is the perfect opportunity for evil to gain a foothold. As we all unfortunately know, well-intended but unchecked anger and judgmental attitudes are the ruin of many otherwise salvageable situations.

The part of the lights of Imma that reaches Leah's two heels and breaks through and enters Rachel's head and shines outward to the force of evil, is called "Balak". This is so for two reasons: first, the meaning of the word "Balak" [is "to break through" (see Isaiah 24) and thus refers to how] these heels break through Rachel's head and enter it. Since they shine outward through breaking through, they are called "Balak".

Second, Jethro was the ancestor of Balak, as we said, and he embodied the yesod of Imma, which was also embodied in Cain, as we have explained - [in our comments] on the commandment [that the king should] not have many wives. Yesod of Imma is indicated by the name Eh-yeh, specifically the four known spellings out of Eh-yeh, i.e. two using the letter yud, one using the letter alef, and one using the letter hei. The combined numerical value of all of them is the same as that of Jethro [plus the three kolels for the three spellings-out].

The numerical value of the two names Eh-yeh spelled with the letter yud is 322; that of the name Eh-yeh spelled with the letter hei is 151; that of the name Eh-yeh spelled with the letter alef is 146.

322 + 151 + 146 = 619.

Jethro, in Hebrew "Yitro", spelled yud-tav-reish-vav = 10 + 400 + 200 + 6 = 616.

Balak is [Jethro's] descendant, who is derived from him, as we said, and he is derived from Imma, from whose malchut Leah is constructed, all the way to her heels.

The lights that issue from the lights of Imma [that are present in Zeir Anpin] into Leah are the four mentalities [expressed through the four spellings out of the name Havayah] whose numerical values are 72, 63, 45, and 52. Their roots [i.e. the four letters of the name Havayah itself] remain in Zeir Anpin, while the letters used to spell them out shine outward to Leah. As is known, the feminine is alluded to in the letters used to spell out the Name. The numerical value of the four sets of letters used to spell out the Name these four ways, together with the four kollels is the same as that of "Balak".

The numerical value of the letters used to spell out the 72-Name (Ab) of is 46; that of the letters used to spell out the 63-Name (Sag) is 37; that of the letters used to spell out the 45-Name (Mah) is 19; that of the letters used to spell out the 52-Name (Ban) is 26. 46 + 37 + 19 + 26 = 128.

Balak, spelled beit-lamed-kuf = 2 + 30 + 100 = 132.

[This indicates that] Balak was rooted in these four spellings-out, i.e. in the two heels of Leah that break through Rachel's head. We explain this idea more in our discussion of the verse "…who envisions the vision of the Almighty" further on.

As for Balaam, he derives principally from the lights of daat of Abba, as we said. The explanation of this is as follows.

When the lights of Abba shine outside, to Leah, they have to break through three barriers: yesod of Abba, yesod of Imma, and Zeir Anpin's head. Only then can they be revealed [outside] and enter Leah's head. They subsequently spread throughout her entire stature, all the way to her heels. [These heels] then break through and enter Rachel's keter.

Now, Rachel's keter is [in this context] called the place where [these lights] are absorbed, for it clothes Leah's two heels and absorbs [their light] within it.

Rachel's entire stature is constructed out of revealed lights, i.e. those [lights that shine] from [Zeir Anpin's] chest downward. [Rachel] therefore exhibits more mercy than does Leah. But in this location [i.e. her keter], her light is dimmed because [it must shine through] a number of barriers, i.e. vessels. For the light that issues from yesod of Imma - which terminates at the chest [of Zeir Anpin] is revealed there, breaks though the back of the vessel of tiferet of Zeir Anpin, and shines outward toward Rachel - must first traverse the barrier of the back of the vessel of Rachel's head, which is right next to the body of Zeir Anpin, as is known.

Abba speaks and Imma acts…

It must then traverse two more barriers, i.e. that of each of Leah's heels, which are there inside Rachel's head, as we said. Each heel has two barriers: its back and front. It must then traverse the front of the vessel of Rachel's head. Only then do these lights reach Rachel's keter, which is situated in her front. It is obvious, thus, that these lights must be considerably weakened [by the time they reach Rachel's keter] and therefore the powers of evil can latch on to them.

This is especially true when we consider another reason (that we have explained in our discussion of the Tree of Knowledge), that wherever the lights of Imma are revealed outside their sheath the powers of evil can latch on.

Therefore, from the radiance that reaches Rachel's keter - in which are absorbed the Leah's two heels - a further radiance shined outward to the powers of evil. This is the location of Balaam, who is so named because Rachel's keter absorbs [in Hebrew, "boleia"] Leah's heels.

Nonetheless, Balaam's chief origin is the lights of Abba that enter Leah and extend to Rachel's keter, as we said.

We thus see that Balak is from the lights of Imma in Leah's heels, while Balaam is from the lights of Abba in Rachel's keter.

It appears to me, Chaim [Vital], that this is how we understand that Balak and Balaam comprise elements of both Cain and Abel. For there is light from Abba and Imma in both of Leah's heels and in Rachel's head. It is just that Leah's heels derive mainly from the lights of Imma while Rachel's keter derives mainly from the lights of Abba. So it appears to me.

You can now understand why Balak was a magician while Balaam was a sorcerer, as is stated in the Zohar. This is because a sorcerer's power is just in his mouth, and so Balaam was mainly from Abel, as we said, and he was the evil breath that issues from the mouth.

"Hevel", Hebrew for "Abel", means "breath".

But Balak was mainly from Cain, who was derived from Imma, which is expressed through action, as you know from [our discussion of] the 32 times the name Elo-him is mentioned in the account of Creation. There we explained that Abba speaks and Imma acts.

The name Elo-him is associated with bina, and it is the only name of G‑d used in the account of Creation, which chronicles G‑d's action as the Creator of the universe. In this account, G‑d is described as both creating through speech ("G‑d said 'Let there be…' and there was…") and action ("And G‑d made…).

Magic is performed with the hand, as it is written, "…with magic [tokens] in their hand…", for Balak was more expert at these than was Balaam.

Balak's emissaries came to Balaam with magic instruments, so that he not be able to refuse on account of not having the right tools.

It appears to me, Chaim [Vital], that I heard from my master, of blessed memory, that the numerical value of Balaam is 142, which is the numerical value of the names Havayah and Eh-yeh and the names Havayah and Ado-nai, together with their four kolels. The significance of this is that [Balaam] takes the radiance from Zeir Anpin, which is referred to by the name Havayah, that shines to Leah, which is referred to by the name Eh-yeh - and the said radiances from Zeir Anpin, which are indicated by two names Havayah that shine to Rachel, who is referred to by the name Ado-nai.

This passage from the Arizal's writings is continued in the next installment on this parasha - see Mystical Roots of Evil.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, parashat Balak; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Mystical Roots of Evil - Part 1

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah details the spiritual sources of Israel's enemies.

This passage from the Arizal's writings is a continuation of the previous installment on this parasha - see The Magician and the Sorcerer.

And Moab became terrified of the people, for they were numerous, and Moab became disgusted [because of the Israelites]. (Num. 22:3)

...the Jews themselves who lived in that generation...whose souls were sparks of Moses'….

The [mystical] explanation of this is as follows:

There were two types of [people that made up] Israel [in that generation]. The first was the Jews themselves who lived in that generation, the source of whose souls were sparks of Moses' [soul] who in turn derived from Abel. (This is explained in our exposition on the generation of the desert on the verse, "And a new king arose over Egypt.")

The second type [of people] was the Mixed Multitude, who are referred to in Scripture simply as "the people", without any qualifier. (Ex. 32:7, Rashi; Likutei Sichot, vol. 16, pp. 408 ff) They derived from the evil aspect of Cain, as explained above.

It is with reference to them that it is written, "And Moab became terrified of the people, for they were numerous." This refers to the Mixed Multitude, who are described as "numerous".

The literal meaning of the words translated as "Mixed Multitude" [in Hebrew, "erev rav"] is "a numerous mixture". The phrase "the people, for they were numerous", therefore quite clearly refers to the Mixed Multitude.

chanoch adds: The literal translation of erev rav is “large evening”. The Zohar explains that this term applies nto the grandchildren of Lavan who are magicians who work their rituals in the large part of the evening which is between 9 and midnight.

The narrative then goes on to say that "Moab became disgusted because of the Israelites," referring to the Jews themselves, who were derived from Abel.

The literal meaning of the words translated as "the Israelites" (benei Yisrael) is "the children [or 'descendants'] of Israel", i.e. of Jacob; this refers only to the direct descendants of Jacob as opposed to Moses' converts.

"[And Moab said to the elders of Midian, 'Now this assembly will eat up everything around us] as the ox eats up the greens of the field.'" (Num. 22:4)

An ox that has been established legally as a goring ox derives from the evil of Esau, who is the "black ox" mentioned in the Sages' teachings. (Berachot 33a)

The union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva…produces the grass of the earth, the souls that issue from this union….

Once an ox gores other animals three times unprovoked, it is legally classified as a "goring ox" and its owner becomes liable for full damages it causes instead of just half. (Ex. 21:35-36)

In discussing under what dangerous circumstances a person may interrupt his prayers in order to flee for safety, the Sages said that "If an ox's head is in a [fodder] basket, go up to a roof and kick the ladder away from underneath you," i.e. get as far away as possible, for the ox will not take kindly to anyone it perceives as interrupting it from its meal. "Samuel said: 'This applies only to a black ox in the month of Nisan, because then the Satan is dancing between his horns.'" Rashi says on this: "Because the days of autumn have passed, when the land is dry, and the ox now sees it full of greenery, it gets high-spirited and the evil inclination enters it." No longer having to worry about food, the ox becomes mischievous, so it is better to stay away from it.

In any case, we see here that the image of a "black ox" is a particularly threatening type of evil, associated with the evil inclination, which in turn is often personified as Esau.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, Likutei Torah, and Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Mystical Roots of Evil - Part 2

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah details the spiritual sources of Israel's enemies. This passage from the Arizal's writings is a continuation of Mystical Roots of Evil - Part 1.

It "eats up the greens of the field". (Num. 22:4) This refers to the souls that issue from the supernal coupling, i.e. from the "field that G‑d blessed". (Gen. 27:27) This is why they said "the field", with the definite article.

When Jacob appeared before Isaac disguised as Esau, in order to receive his blessings, Isaac said, "Behold, my son's fragrance is like that of the field that G‑d blessed." Rashi says this means that Isaac recognized on Jacob's garments the fragrance of the Garden of Eden (which he remembered from when he was temporarily there when he was almost slaughtered). Thus, "the field that G‑d blessed" is the Garden of Eden, or in Kabbalistic terms, the sefira of malchut. In this imagery, holy souls are the "grass" that grows in the "holy field". The union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, which is often allegorized as the fertilization of the earth by the rain of heaven, produces the grass of the earth, the souls that issue from this union.

This is also alluded to by the fact that the numerical value of the word for "the field" [in Hebrew, "hasadeh" = 314] is the same as that of the name Sha-dai, alluding to the supernal righteous one, who is also called "the soul of all life", from which all souls take flight.

"Hasadeh" is spelled: hei-sin-dalet-hei = 5 + 300 + 4 + 5 = 314.

"Sha-dai"is spelled: shin-dalet-yud = 300 + 4 + 10 = 314

The name Sha-dai…is associated with sexuality…

The name Sha-dai is associated with the sefira of yesod, which in turn is associated with sexuality, the area of life that serves as the basic test of righteousness.

Thus, the Moabites complained to the Midianites that the Jews threatened to wipe them out, just as evil threatens to annihilate the holy souls produced by the holy union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva. They saw themselves as the good ones and the Jews as the embodiment of evil.

[Balak] sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, to Petor, which is by the river of the land of his people, to call for him, saying, "…please come and curse this people for me." (Num. 22:5)

Balaam's power was sorcery, for he derived from the enveloping breath, and [therefore] his power was solely in his mouth.

As explained previously, Balaam derived from Abel, whose Hebrew name (Hevel) means "breath".

But Balak derived from Cain, who personified action.

As explained previously, Cain is derived from Imma, which is expressed in action, as opposed to Abba, which is expressed in thought.

He was therefore a magician, for he derived from the states of gevura [in the] arms, the hands, and the fingers, and that is why it is written "with magic [tokens] in their hands." (Ibid. 22:7)

As mentioned previously, Balak's emissaries came to Balaam with magic instruments, so that he not be able to refuse on account of not having the right tools. The implication of the verse's phraseology is that magic is something done with the hands, as opposed to sorcery, which is more a matter of incantations and charms, uttered with the mouth.

Inasmuch as he derived ultimately from Imma, Balak was associated with the axis of gevura. Both chesed and gevura are associated anatomically with the arms, hands, and fingers - chesed with the right and gevura with the left.

Balak wanted Balaam - who personified breath, which is the encompassing light, signified by the name Eh-yeh - to curse them from his source in which he was rooted. Therefore the name Eh-yeh is alluded to twice [in this passage]: the first as the initials of the words for "the ox the greens of the field", and the second as the final letters of the words for "please come and curse for me".

chanoch adds: The first word below is encompassing. The usual Kabbalah word is surrounding Light

The encompassing light is higher and more powerful, but the inner light permeates more thoroughly….

"The ox the greens of the field" in Hebrew is "hashor et yerek hasadeh"; the initial letters of these words are hei-alef-yud-hei. "Please come and curse for me" is "lechah na arah li"; the final letters of these words are hei-alef-hei-yud.

Although the name Eh-yeh is composed of four letters, and should therefore have 24 permutations (4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24), two of its letters are the same (the two hei's), and there are therefore only 12 unique permutations.

chanoch adds: to be clear, the two letter sequences brought two paragraphs above are permutations of the Name Ehyeh.

Balaam, on the other hand, wanted to curse them from [the spiritual source of] Balak, who was rooted in the Inner Light, signified by the name Havayah. Therefore three permutations of the name Havayah are alluded to in the words of Balaam, all in reverse order:

The first is the final letters of the words for "Lodge here for the night, and I will give you an answer…" (Ibid. 22:8)

The Hebrew for these words is "linu poh halailah vehashivoti", the final letters of which are vav-hei-hei-yud.

The second is the final letters of the words for "Come and curse them for me". (Ibid. 22:11)

The Hebrew for these words is lechah kavah li oto, the final letters of which are hei-hei-yud-vav.

The third is the final letters of the words for "[to do] either good or evil on my own." (Ibid. 24:13)

The Hebrew for these words is "tovah o ra'ah milibi", the final letters of which are hei-vav-hei-yud.

This explanation accords with what I have told you in connection with how the sefirot are called in the world of Beriya. There, [the sefirot] are known by the permutations of the names Eh-yeh and Havayah. And since it is from the world of Beriya on down that the powers of evil begin to have dominion, [Balaam] therefore wanted to curse them from there.

As explained in the previous installment, Balak derives from the lights of Imma in Leah's heels, while Balaam derives from the lights of Abba in Rachel's keter. Thus, Balak is an inner light and Balaam is an encompassing light. The encompassing light is higher and more powerful, but the inner light permeates more thoroughly. Each I therefore wanted to curse the Jews with the other's qualities.

chanoch's Commentary

It is important, in my opinion, to integrate the above information with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. We do this by asking the question: Why is the blevel of Bilaam the world of Beriah while the level of Moshe is at the level of Atzilut? In my opinion, the reason is as follows: If both were from the world of Atzilut then it would not be clear to a human being to follow the leads of Moshe and the Children of Israel.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, Likutei Torah, and Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."