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."

Seeing With a Blinded Eye

From the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

"He took up his parable, and said: This is the word of Balaam the son of Be'or, and the saying of the man with the blinded eye. (Num. 24:3)

"This is the saying of the man who sees well." (Onkelos)

chanoch adds: Onkelos is reputed to be a translator of the Torah into the everyday language of the people called Aramaic. In quite a few places this Aramaic translation, called Targum, changes the meaning of the understanding of the Hebrew words of Torah. Please note that the Aramaic translation by Onkelas is one dialect of Aramaic while the Talmud is written in a mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew. The Zohar uses a third dialect of Aramaic.

I heard in the name of the Baal Shem Tov the intention of Onkelos here. The Midrash asks why G·d chose to rest His Presence on such a wicked gentile as Balaam? And it answers, so that the gentile nations will not have any allegation [against G·d] saying, "Had you given us prophets, we too would have improved our ways."

It is known, though, that the attainment of prophecy requires very great holiness. Now, a person has five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. These correspond to five spiritual senses, as it is written: "My heart has seen much wisdom", (Ecclesiastes 1:17) "You have given to Your servant a listening heart", (I Kings 3:9) "And he shall smell with the fear of G·d". (Isaiah 11:3)

And likewise with the other senses. (See Midrash Raba, Eccl. 1:36) When a person purifies and sanctifies his external [physical] sense, holiness rests upon his spiritual ones, and the spirit of prophecy descends upon him.

chanoch adds: Know that there are 10 senses not five. This is easily missed even after reading the above paragraph. Actually there is 5 senses in each world. Adam Kadmon – Atzilut – Briah – Yetzirah – Asiah

But the wicked Balaam was the opposite of this. He defiled all of his physical senses, as our Rabbis said, that he practiced bestiality with his donkey. (Sanhedrin 105a) In addition, he was a necromancer, a diviner, a sorcerer, and a soothsayer. How was it possible for prophecy to have rested upon him? It was not possible! And yet, it was extremely necessary for him to become a prophet, so that the nations of the world could not have a claim [against G·d], "You rejected us!" But the matter was still very difficult, for there was no idea what could be done with him. What did G·d do? He blinded him in one of his eyes, and because he could not sin with that eye, holiness and prophecy rested upon it.

The Targum reveals this to us by translating "blinded eye" as "who sees well." That is, because he was blind in one of his eyes, he was able to see well with prophetic vision. But had he not been blind in that eye, there would not have been any way for prophecy to rest upon him.

Translation from Sefer Baal Shem Tov and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore; first posted on

Rav Kook On Parasha Balak: Tents and Dwelling Places

The evil prophet Balaam wanted to curse the people of Israel, but instead found himself blessing them:

“מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל.”

“How goodly are your tents, Jacob; your dwelling places, Israel” (Num. 24:5).

Is the repetition in Balaam’s blessing only poetic? Or is there a deeper significance to these two forms of shelter: the “tent” and the “mishkan” (dwelling place)?

The Journey of the Soul

As we strive to grow spiritually, we make use of two contradictory yet complementary methods.

The first method is our aspiration to constantly improve ourselves. We strive to attain greater wisdom and enlightenment. We seek to continually refine the emotions and ennoble the spirit.

The second method is the necessity to restrain our striving for spiritual growth, in order to assimilate changes and guard against spiritual lapses. We want to internalize our spiritual and ethical gains, and maintain our current level. This means that we must curb the desire for growth, so that our ambitions do not overextend the soul’s natural capacity for change.

chanoch adds: Desire for growth seems to be in opposition to restraining growth. Yet Rav Kook says they are complementary. We will see the truth of Rav Kook's wisdom below. This is my opinion.

The “tent” and the “mishkan” are both forms of temporary shelter. Both relate to the soul’s upwards journey. However, they differ in a significant aspect. The “tent” is inherently connected to the state of traveling. It corresponds to the aspiration for constant change and growth. The “mishkan” is also part of the journey, but it is associated with the rests between travels. It is the soul’s sense of calm, its rest from the constant movement, for the sake of the overall mission.

Surprisingly, it is the second method that is the loftier of the two. The desire to change reflects a lower-level fear, lest we stagnate and deteriorate. Therefore, the blessing mentions “tents” first, together with the name “Jacob,” the first and embryonic name of the Jewish people.

The need to stop and rest, on the other hand, stems from a higher-level fear, lest we over-shoot the appropriate level for the soul. For this reason, the blessing mentions “mishkan” together with the name “Israel,” Jacob’s second and holier name.

In any case, we need both aspects in order to achieve stable spiritual growth. Balaam’s prophetic blessing praises the balanced union of “How goodly are your tents, Jacob” - the soul’s longing for change - together with the more restful state of “your dwelling places, Israel,” restricting growth in order to avoid unchecked advancement, thus enabling the soul to properly absorb all spiritual attainments.

Gold from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback), pp. 269-270. Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. I, pp. 42-43

Parasha Balak: Sweet Dreams

Have you ever dreamed a disturbing dream, but cannot remember it? The Talmud recommends reciting the following prayer while the kohanim bless the people:

“Master of the World! My dreams and I belong to You. If the dreams are good — bolster them like the dreams of Joseph. And if they need to be remedied — fix them like the bitter waters that Moses sweetened. Just as You transformed wicked Balaam’s curses into blessings, so too, make all of my dreams be for the best.” (Berachot 55b)

chanoch adds: This prayer can be said each time the Priestly Blessing is said duringn the repitition of the Amidah

Transforming Bad Dreams

There are two ways in which evil tidings may be transformed into good ones. In the first way, the means remain disturbing, but the final outcome is good. One example of this is the sale of Joseph into slavery and his subsequent imprisonment in Egypt. All of the various causes were adverse, incurring much hardship for Joseph. But the ultimate result — Joseph’s rise to greatness, and his ability to provide sustenance during the years of famine — was certainly for the best.

However, it is even more impressive when the causes are also transformed into positive ones, so that the end is achieved through propitious means. An example of this type of transformation occurred with Balaam. God could have let Balaam curse the people of Israel, and only later changed his curses to blessings. But instead, God “placed a hook in Balaam’s mouth” — as the Midrash describes God’s complete control over Balaam’s powers of speech — so that only blessings came forth. Thus even the means — Balaam’s prophecies — were favorable.

We pray that our dreams should be completely transformed for the good. Like Balaam’s “curses,” we want both the ends and the means to be auspicious and beneficial.

chanoch adds: There are 2 other methods of changing dreams that the recipient considers evil. One method is to interpret the dream in a positive way. Dreams manifest the way are interpreted, thus the positive interpretation will manifest. The other method is too petition a Beit Din to change the dream. Both methods need to be done before the next sundown.

Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 274

Paradoxical Laws

Via irony we can approach an understanding of the Divine.

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Generally speaking, the term, "decrees of the Omnipresent" [in Hebrew, "gezeirot HaMakom"] is understood to imply decrees that cannot be explained rationally. This is also the way Maimonides explains this term in the Mishna (Berachot 5:3) where we are told that if someone claims that the law of chasing away the mother-bird prior to taking its young (Deut. 22:6) is an expression of G‑d's mercy, such a person must be stopped, since we must not interpret G‑d's laws as being based on human sensitivities. G‑d's laws do not need a rationale in order for us to observe and cherish them. Maimonides was attacked for having made such a statement, as is well known. At any rate, if it is as Maimonides says, then all the commandments are merely decrees that need not be investigated as to their specific rationale.

chanoch adds: Why do Mitzvot? 1. HaShem tells us it is good for us? 2. People think that it is a just law that society needs to follow to retain order among people? 3. They are ethical even if we do not see the logic to the ethical value? 4. We receive metaphysical energy for lack of a better English word? The Hebrew word is Shefa. 5. Give pleasure to HaShem?Many other possible reasons? Each person must answer each Mitzvah for ourselves. The Sages say we need to do each of them no matter our reason for doing them. As we do them they change us for the better.

Nothing could be a greater proof of the divine authenticity of Torah than these so called contradictions….

We have another Midrash which compares the legislation of the red heifer to a king who enters a country, and to whom his subjects say, "Please impose upon us some decrees!" The King replies: "Once you have accepted me as your sovereign, I will begin to make decrees." Similarly G‑d said to Israel: "Since you have accepted My sovereignty when I said 'I am the L-rd your G‑d, etc.', now accept My decree not to have any other deities!"

There is an illuminating comment by the Maharam from Padua, on the Sefer HaMada of Maimonides, commenting on the miracle by which the world was created and how contradictory it seems that certain celestial bodies are sources of light, while others only reflect light, having none of their own to give. Some stars race around the universe, others travel at a leisurely pace. Some natural phenomena exude heat, others cold. All these phenomena are examples of contradictions. Nonetheless, they are all part of the same universe. What is so strange then if the Torah contains some laws that appear contradictory? On the contrary, nothing could be a greater proof of the divine authenticity of Torah than these so called contradictions. Had Torah been man-made legislation, surely it would have reflected the lawgiver's "consistency"!

Surely, when G‑d created Nature, He did so with intelligence! This then must be our answer when confronted by those who claim that the Torah's commandments are devoid of reason, only intended to assert G‑d's authority over His creatures.

Our answer to such arguments must be that this would be a very poor way for G‑d to win adherents to His law. Surely, if He had only wanted to secure our obedience, He would have legislated only laws that we could comprehend, and which by their logic would make us accept Him as our supreme authority! The only reason then that He legislated such apparently illogical laws must be that they are beneficial for us, though we do not understand how - a condition due to the limitation of our perceptive faculties!

chanoch adds: The question I asked above needs an answer for some people but not all people. Do you do the Mitzvot as an aspect of Trust and Certainty in and with HaShem?

Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Bad Advice

"Since Moses’ strength is in his mouth, we will combat them with a man whose strength is in his mouth."

Translated and annotated by Rahmiel-Hayyim Drizin from PaRDeS HaBahir

Translated and annotated by Rahmiel-Hayyim Drizin from PaRDeS HaBahir

This series is translating the Sefer Bahir.. The translator has chosen to utilize different commentaries from different Sages and categorize these comments according to the 4 levels of Torah referred to as Pardes = Garden. The Pshat level is the Pei of Pardes. Pshat refers to simple or naked energy level. The Raish is the Remez = hints in the Torah. The Dalet is the drash level of Torah. This is the ethical level. The Samech is the Sod level or secrets of the Torah.

"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.' Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time" (Num. 22:4)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: "to the elders of Midian"

...because of their mutual fear of Israel, they made peace with each other.But did they not always hate each other, as it says, "who defeated Midian in the field of Moab" (Gen. 36:35) when Midian came against Moab in battle? However, because of their mutual fear of Israel, they made peace with each other. And what did Moab see to take counsel with Midian? Since they saw that Israel was supernaturally victorious [in their battles], they said, "The leader of these [people] was raised in Midian. Let us ask them what his character is." They told them, "His strength is solely in his mouth." They said, "We too will come against them with a man whose strength is in his mouth."

Rashi: "as the ox eats up"

Whatever the ox has eaten up no longer contains blessing [because the ox uproots the plants it eats.

Rashi: "at that time"

He was not entitled to the monarchy. He was one of the Midianite nobles [according to some: of the nobles of Sichon (Joshua 13:21), and when Sichon died, they appointed him over them on a temporary basis.

chanoch adds: He is Balak who was a son of Yitro [Some say grandson]. Balak was a rebellious son who did not follow the other Kenites mentioned in the Tanach.

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim:"they will lick up"

This is used twice in Scriptures:

(1) here: "now the congregation will lick up" and (2) "they will lick the dirt like the snake", which discusses the future redemption of Israel. This is in accord with the verse "Just as they did at the tidings of Egypt, will they too tremble at the tidings of Tyre" This indicates that just as awe of Israel fell upon all the nations, then so will it be in the future.

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Targum Yonatan: "And he sent"

to Laban the Aramite who was Balaam (so called because it was) he who sought to swallow up ('MiBilu'a') the people ('Ama') of the house of Israel; the son of Be'or, who was insane from the vastness of his knowledge; and would not spare Israel, the descendants of his sons and daughters: and the house of his habitation in Padan was at Pethor, a name signifying an interpreter of dreams. It was built in Aram upon the Euphrates, in a land where the children of the people worshipped and adored him. (To him did Balak send) to call him, saying: "Now, I entreat, come, curse this people for me, for they are stronger than I, if I may but be able to meet them, though smaller than they, and drive them from the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed." [verse 6]

Ohr HaChayim: "at that time"

...Balak was king "at that time", neither earlier nor later.The Torah emphasizes that Balak was king "at that time", neither earlier nor later. Once Balaam told Moab that they had nothing to fear from Israel in the future, they dismissed Balak from his position and sent him home. The best proof of this is when the Torah numbers the princes killed in the fight launched by Israel after Pinchas's famous deed, Tzur was listed as one of the casualties.

"Around us'"

Perhaps the Moabites did not want to reveal to the elders of Midian the extent of their fear of the Israelites, so they described the presence of Israelites in that part of the world as kind of an ecological disaster. They spoke of "our environment" to include the Midianites as potential victims.

Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank: According to Kabbalah, Balaam represents da'at of kelipa. Kelipa means "shell" and refers to the covering of the Divine, signifying all the forces that support illusion and denial. da'at/knowledge of kelipa represents a topsy-turvy form of awareness. This da'at lacks the mental breadth which could integrate a whole and integral view. In defense of what it perceives to be an environment of ambiguous and painful energies, the consciousness shifts to rigidity and illusion to protect itself.

A source for this interpretation is in the name of Balaam's father, Be'or. This is the name of one of the early Kings: Bela Ben Beor of Canaan. (Gen. 36:31-39) The Kabbalah interprets their mention in the Torah as representing the Sefirot in an early developmental stage in which the consciousness was unable to coexist with the forces nurturing it and a shattering of its containment vessels occurred. Balaam is the development/descendant of a shattered part of the Divine mind. The whole episode of Balaam striking his donkey represents a mental dynamic whereby a fearful mind becomes exaggerated and fears future pain. (Based on Likutei Levi Yitzhak on Zohar and Talmud)

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Balak 189:

"And Moab said to the elders of Midian." It does not say, 'The elders of Moab said to the elders of Midian', but "Moab said." That means that the young took counsel of the elders, and the older ones followed after and gave them advice. What was the advice with which they counseled them? They took for themselves bad advice. They said to Moab, We have grown a bad crop among us. And who is it? It is their master, Moses.

There was among us a priest who took care of him and supported him in his house and gave him his daughter for a wife. Furthermore, he gave him money and sent him to Egypt to destroy the whole country. And he and his entire household got carried away after him. If we could root out from the world that master of theirs, all his people would be uprooted from the world. The entire disastrous advice in the matters of Pe'or stemmed from Midian.

BeRahamim LeHayyim:

What is the import of this Holy Zohar, and how does it help us in any way?

...the young leaders asked the elders for advice, and the advice was bad.

It seems to indicate that the young leaders asked the elders for advice, and the advice was bad.

We read in the Mishna:

Rabbi Yosi the son of Judah of Kfar HaBavli would say: One who learns Torah from youngsters, whom is he comparable to? To one who eats unripe grapes and drinks [unfermented] wine from the press. One who learns Torah from the old, whom is he comparable to? To one who eats ripened grapes and drinks aged wine.

Said Rabbi Meir: Look not at the vessel, but at what it contains. There are new vessels that are filled with old wine, and old vessels that do not even contain new wine. Giving advice is tricky stuff. Kind of like giving rebuke; perhaps there are few today who really know how to do it well.

The problem with the Midianite elders is that they got personal, namely they had issues and "stuff" and "baggage" that they injected and infused in their "counsel" .

Not good.

When someone comes for advice, even the more so for spiritual advice, it is important to be able to first know WHAT the person is asking for.

Next is almost as important: not to carry any "hidden" agendas into your advice. Don't do what you think is best for you, nor put yourself in that person's exact place. Empathy and sympathy is important, but so too is cold rational left-brain calculus.

Sometimes we have to say we can't give advice because we can't be objective. Other times we may be perfectly suited to do so.

The externalities are not important...

The externalities are not important, rather the inner dimension, as given over by R. Meir.

And boy, he should know, big time. R. Meir had as his teacher the famous "Acher" "the Other", R. Elisha ben Abuya who opened up this Mishna with "Elisha the son of Avuyah would say: One who learns Torah in his childhood, what is this comparable to? To ink inscribed on fresh paper. One who learns Torah in his old age, what is this comparable to? To ink inscribed on erased paper."

Namely, be careful with those who learned Torah in their old age, who are kind of like "smudged paper".

We are told that R. Meir "sucked the juice of the pomegranate and threw away the shell". Some say that meant he received the inner dimension of teachings from the noted heretic R. Elisha, and tossed out the external problematic teachings.

We must try not to fall into the trappings of "judging a book by its cover", as did the youngsters of Moab who solicited the advice of the elders of Midian, to their downfall.

On the other side, giving advice in any context — personal, business, or Jewish legal — is a sacred process where the giver must be able to assess and process and bestow for the sake of Heaven and not for some personal self-interest. Easier said than done.

Translated and annotated by Rahmiel-Hayyim Drizin from PaRDeS HaBahir

Jewish Acupuncture

Kabbalistic healing practices

From the works of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad

It is already known that "all becomes clarified via thought" - (as is brought in the Heichalot section of the Zohar, parashat Pekudei) - that all "320 Sparks" become clarified via thought, the evil refuse departing from within the good. Thus the aspect of "good [i.e. pure] blood", which is the ideal vital energy, becomes hidden away in the pulse, and the "bad blood" leaves outside.

And sometimes because of a person's transgressions, one's power of thought is unable to clarify and expel the extra refuse of the blood outside. It is then that a person becomes sick and needs bloodletting treatments in order to allow [the blood] to exit, as is known by doctors who perform these bloodletting procedures. It is for this reason that all of a person's vital energy depends upon the pulse, and all illnesses can be diagnosed therein. For according to the degree of the transgression and sin that one makes, is the deficiency of the aspect of this "light" and vital energy within the pulse.

When one aspect dominates, it indicates a deficiency in that very same trait….

In the Tikunei Zohar it is written that there are ten types of pulse, each corresponding to the Hebrew vowels kamatz, patach, tzeri, etc. To elaborate, all vowels are [rooted] in chochma, as mentioned, and all the various rhythms of the pulse are all in the form of the [various] vowels. And when a person feels the pulse with his hand, sometimes there is found a pulse of one beat [in Hebrew, "nekuda", literally "vowel"] and afterwards a beat to the side - this is the [formation of the] vowel tzeri; and sometimes there is a singular beat which pulse above with another below it - this is the [formation of the] vowel shva; and sometimes there is a singular extended beat accompanied by a brief one - and these together form the vowel kamatz; and so it goes for all the vowels, each demonstrating according to the character of one's vital energy drawn at that particular time, each indicating from which aspect of chochma [it is rooted]. For example, if the pulse is in the form of the vowel kamatz, this indicates an imbalance [i.e. domination] of the sefira of keter [associated with the kamatz] within chochma, from which is sent forth vital energy and influence to all the various limbs at that time; and if the pulse is in the form of the vowel patach [associated with the sefira of chochma], this indicates that vital energy is being drawn from [the sub-sefira] chochma within chochma, etc.; and this applies to all the Hebrew vowels within the nine [upper] sefirot, as mentioned in the Tikunei Zohar. (Sometimes two vowels combine with each other, like shva-patach [or] shva-segol, etc.)

Through this, one can understand and know the nature of a person's sin….

One should know that through this [diagnoses via the pulse], one can understand and know the nature of a person's sin. [For example] if a person's pulse appears like a kamatz, this indicates that a he has sinned in relation to keter, and thus [keter] is dominating at the time, demonstrating that its [negative] force was unable to depart due to the person's sin [i.e. imbalance]. For we see that when one aspect dominates, it indicates a deficiency in that very same trait, in the same way as the verse states "You take away their breath, they perish" (Psalms 104:29) - that any weak thing attempts to bolster its strength in order to carry on. And sometimes it indicates the opposite, in that a person [may have] just performed a particular mitzvah within that trait, but there are none among us [now] who know exactly [how to judge this].

Thus far the holy language of our righteous [Rabbi Chaim Vital], of blessed memory.

So we find that the transgressions that a person commits have an effect on that person's pulse, and there they can be felt and recognized. All this was known, with the help of Heaven, by the Talmudic Sages. The Mishna says, "Whoever influences the masses to become meritorious - no sin will come via his hand" (Avot 5:18), instead of saying "won't sin", for this is to teach us that even if as a result of his own free will a person sins, in any case his causing the masses to become meritorious will protect him, and G‑d will forgive him immediately of that particular sin. And right before a particular transgression begins to have an effect on a person's hand, meaning the pulse, The Holy One, blessed be He, forgives him immediately - before the sin is detectable via his hand's pulse.

chanoch's commentary

In the Zohar – Parasha Yitro this material about the pulse revealing the sin , wwhich reveals the illness is revealeed. Today it is taught by Yogi'ws of Eastern religions. In order to utilize this teaching of the Ben Ish Chai requires many hours of practice.

Translated from Bircat Avot by Baruch Emanuel Erdstein

From the works of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad

Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad is best known by the name of his most famous work, "Ben Ish Chai". 5594-5669 (1834-1909 CE) Prolific leader of Persian Jewry and an important kabbalist. In addition to many works on Jewish law and Talmud, he authored many kabbalistic commentaries.

Jewish Acupuncture comment

Thanks for the clear information. I have a medical practice and and for the past 7 years I find myself saying a blessing before I start working and before every patient. The blessing gives me the light to distinguish.

Sara Southfield, MI

Very thought provoking. I had to read this article a couple of times before it sunk into my psychicy. Now I know why law enforcement like to give polygraph test. The test picks up your pulse signals and therefore relay weather you have committed a crime or not. Although they are not always accurate, this acupuncture science is something to examine further. Thanks for a really great article.