Grandfather Abraham

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

Kabbalah illustrates the mystical level of grandparents.

"And these are the days of the years of the life of Abraham that he lived: one hundred seventy five years." (Gen. 25:7)

Abraham embodied the five states of chesed [of Imma] that spread through Zeir Anpin, who expresses the name Havayah spelled out with the letter alef, whose numerical value is 45.

chanoch adds: The five states are chesed – gevurah – tiferet – netzach – hod of chesed of Imma. Yesod receives all 5 levels yet does not have any states of its own.

The four major partzufim of Atzilut (Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva) express the four spellings-out of the name Havayah (possessing the numerical values of 72, 63. 45, and 52), respectively.

The five states of chesed are expressed by five names Havayah [= 26], giving a numerical value of 130.

5 x 26 = 130.

When these names Havayah, whose numerical value is 130, are joined with and spread through Zeir Anpin, who expresses the name Havayah spelled out to equal 45, the sum is 175, the number of years in Abraham's life.

The beauty of the face of an old man is his beard….

However, the origin of these 175 [years] in particular is as follows:

As we have already explained, Abraham originates in the supernal face [of Arich Anpin], which shines forth 370 lights. Therefore, when these five states of chesed spread through the yesod of Zeir Anpin, they make "Joseph" - "of good form and good appearance" (Gen. 39:6) due to the beauty of the supernal face of Arich Anpin, the source of the five states of chesed.

Jacob personified Zeir Anpin; his son Joseph personified yesod of Zeir Anpin. In this context, Abraham, Jacob's grandfather, personifies Arich Anpin, the source of Abba and Imma, the "parents" of Zeir Anpin.

As you know, the beauty of the face is the beard, and therefore a eunuch has no "beauty of the face", i.e. no beard.

The phrase "You shall stand up in the presence of gray hair, and you shall honor the face of an old person" (Lev. 19:32) may be read, "You shall stand up in the presence of gray hair and the beauty of the face is the beard." This implies that the beauty of the face of an old man is his beard. We have identified the "beauty of the face" as the 370 lights, the source of the 5 states of chesed. These are expressed as the beauty expressed in yesod of Zeir Anpin, the "grandchild" of Arich Anpin, as we saw with the case of Joseph. A eunuch, whose yesod has been castrated, is thus deprived of the expression of the potential beauty of his face (his inner Arich Anpin) in his "grandchild" (his yesod, his procreative organ), and therefore this beauty is not expressed as a beard.

chanoch adds: It is important to remember that one translation of the Sefirah Tiferet is Beautiful. Tiferet is he essence of balance both vertically horizontally and in the third and more dimensions.

Now, in this face [of Arich Anpin] are expressed 8 names E‑l, whose numerical value is the same as that of "Abraham", who personifies this level.

"E‑l" is spelled: alef-lamed = 1 + 30 = 31. 8 x 31 = 248.

"Abraham" is spelled: alef-beit-reish-hei-mem = 1 + 2 + 200 + 5 + 40 = 248.

The name E‑l is associated with chesed. Thus, the face of Arich Anpin, the source of the five states of chesed, embodies this name.

These [8 names] constitute the first of the 13 Rectifications of the Beard, which is [the name] E‑l.

The first of the 13 Attributes of Mercy is simply the name E‑l, signifying G‑d's loving kindness….

The 13 rectifications, or parts, of the Beard, correspond to the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Ex. 34:6), as we have explained previously. The first of the 13 Attributes of Mercy is simply the name E‑l, signifying G‑d's loving kindness.

As you know, it possesses 3 worlds (Zohar III:132), each of which is called E‑l.

The vessels of Tohu collapsed beginning with the sefira of daat. The first of the 13 attributes of mercy rectifies the fallen sefirot of daat, chesed, and gevura. These three manifestations of the name E‑l are the name E‑l as it combines with three other names, i.e. E‑l Sha-dai, E‑l Havayah, and E‑l Ado-nai.

In this connection, we will quote from an installment of parashat Lech Lecha:

This [first attribute of the thirteen] corresponds to the two upper corners of the beard [i.e. the sideburns], one to the right and one to the left. Thus, we have [so far] two names E‑l.

It is also known that each sideburn contains three names E‑l, i.e. [the manifestation of this attribute in] the three [lower] worlds, that issue from this rectification [of the beard], as we have explained in [our commentary on] the Idra (ibid.; see Shaar Maamarei Rashbi, ad loc.) These are: E‑l Sha-dai, in the world of Beriya; E‑l Havayah, in the world of Yetzira; and E‑l Ado-nai, in the world of Asiya.

Two of these names are found combined this way in the Bible. E‑l Sha-dai is found six times; an example of E‑l Havayah is in Psalms 118:26; E‑l Ado-nai does not appear in the Bible but is construed based on the other two.

There are thus six such names E‑l in the two sideburns.

There are two more names E‑l in the seventh rectification, which is the [lack of hair on the] two cheeks, known as "the two holy faces", as we have explained elsewhere. These are the 370 lights that shine from the face of Arich Anpin, corresponding to the two spelled-out names E‑l situated there.

"E‑l" is spelled: alef-lamed. When these two letters are spelled out, we have:

The word for letter alef is spelled: alef-lamed-pei = 1 + 30 + 80 = 111.

The word for letter lamed is spelled: lamed-mem-dalet = 30 + 40 + 4 = 74.

111 + 74 = 185. For the two names E‑l on the two cheeks, we have 2 x 185 = 370.

This yields 8 names E‑l, which together equal the numerical value of "Abraham".

Six on the two sideburns and two on the two cheeks.

In our discussion of the 175 years of Abraham's lifetime in parashat Chayei Sarah, we will explain this at greater length.

To continue with the present passage:

Thus we have 3 names E‑l to the right and 3 to the left. The two names E‑l are on the face itself to the right and to the left. We thus have 8 names E‑l, whose combined numerical value is the same as that of "Abraham".

And a suckling will play over the hole of a viper….

However, these two names E‑l situated on the face are derived from the two names Havayah situated on the face, one to the right and one to the left. They are spelled out with the letter yud. This is the significance of the two names Havayah that precede the 13 Rectifications of the Beard, as it is written, "G‑d, G‑d, is a merciful and gracious G‑d…."

In the verse listing the 13 Attributes of Mercy, G‑d precedes His proclamation of these attributes by saying His name Havayah twice. "And G‑d passed before him, and said, 'Havayah, Havayah, is a G‑d [E‑l] who is merciful and gracious…."

But these two names Havayah [each] possess a front and a back. Each back is manifest as a regressive iteration, as we know.

As we have seen previously, the withdrawal of the divine beneficence channeled through one of G‑d's names is indicated by the regressive iteration of that name. In the case of the name Havayah, this is yud yud-hei yud-hei-vav yud-hei-vav-hei.

The numerical value of the regressive iteration of the name Havayah spelled out with the letter yud is 184.

The regression of the name Havayah spelled out with the letter yud is:

yud-vav-dalet, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-dalet, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-dalet hei-yud.

Numerically, this translates into: 4(10+6+4) + 3(5+10) + 2(6+10+6) + 1(5+10)

= 4(20) + 3(15) + 2(22) + 1(15)

= 80 + 45 + 44 + 15 = 184.

And the numerical value of the spelling out of the name E‑l is also 184 [plus the kolel, i.e. 185].

The spelling out of E‑l (alef-lamed) is:

Alef-lamed-pei lamed-mem-dalet = (1 + 30 + 80) + (30 + 40 + 4) = 185.

We thus see how from the backs of these two names [Havayah] are derived these two names E‑l.

Now, the numerical value of two times the spelling out of the name E‑l will be 370. These are the 370 lights that shine from the supernal face [of Arich Anpin].

2 x 185 = 370.

Let us now return to our derivation of the 175 years of Abraham's life.

When these two names Havayah that are manifest on the supernal face [of Arich Anpin] are transformed [using Atbash], they produce the letter-combinations mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik twice.

Atbash is one of several letter-substitution algorithms used in Kabbala. In Atbash, the first letter of the alphabet (alef) is replaced by the last (tav), the second (beit) by the second to the last (shin), and so on. These first two pairs (alef-tav-beit-shin) give this algorithm its name.

If we divide them [into four pairs of letters] and spell them out, we have mem-mem tzadik-dalet-yud and pei-alef tzadik-dalet-yud.

The letter tzadik is sometimes spelled out with a kuf at the end and sometimes without.

The numerical value of mem-mem tzadik-dalet-yud is 184, which is also the numerical value of [the spelling out of] the name E‑l [plus the kolel, as we saw above].

Mem-mem tzadik-dalet-yud: 40 + 40 + 90 + 4 + 10 = 184.

Similarly, the numerical value of pei-alef tzadik-dalet-yud is 185, which is again the numerical value of the spelling out of the name E‑l.

Pei-alef tzadik-dalet-yud = 80 + 1 + 90 + 4 + 10 = 185.

Thus, the transformation of the name Havayah via Atbash yields two names E‑l. Any transformation of a name indicates a tzimtzum, or contraction of the divine life-force channeled through that name.

We do the same with the second name Havayah, giving 4 names E‑l, which manifest as two sets of 370.

4 x 185 = 2 x (2 x 185) = 2 x (370).

For the first 370 [lights] are derived from the two names E‑l implicit in the first two letters of both [transformed] names, i.e. mem-tzadik, and they constitute the frontal 370 lights. The second 370 [lights] are derived from [the two names E‑l implicit in] the second two letters [of both transformed names], i.e. pei-tzadik, and they constitute the back 370 lights.

With reference to these two sets of 370, it is written, "And a suckling will play over the hole of a viper…." (Isaiah 11:8)

The Hebrew word for "play", "shiasha", is spelled shin-ayin-shin-ayin, which divides naturally into two sub-units of shin-ayin (=370) each.

For the numerical value of the word for "suckling" [in Hebrew, "yoneik"] is the same as the regressive iteration of the name Havayah spelled out to equal 63.

"Yoneik" is spelled: yud-vav-nun-kuf = 10 + 6 + 50 + 100 = 166.

The name Havayah spelled out to equal 63 is:

Yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-alef-vav hei-yud = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 10) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 10) = 63.

The regressive iteration of this spelling out is:

yud-vav-dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20

yud-vav-dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20; hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15

yud-vav-dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20; hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15; vav-alef-vav = 6 + 1 + 6 = 13

yud-vav-dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20; hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15; vav-alef-vav = 6 + 1 + 6 = 13; hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15

total = 166

Thus, this verse alludes to the tzimtzum of the name Havayah (as expressed through its transformation via Atbash) to produce the two sets of 370 lights.

Why does this verse allude to the name Havayah spelled out to equal 63?

And it is known that the said 370 lights are derived from the name Havayah spelled out to equal 63, for the numerical value of the said 370 lights implicit in these said two names Havayah, together with their 8 original letters, is the same as that of the word for "electrum" ["chashmal"].

chanoch adds: chashmal, in modern hebrew has the meaning of n”electricity and also energy. In modern ntimes biblical understands chashmal to be energy also.

The 8 letters of the two four-letter names Havayah, each taken as a unit value, equal 8.

8 + 370 = 378.

"Chashmal" is spelled: chet-shin-mem-lamed = 8 + 300 + 40 + 30 = 378.

Chashmal is the protective garment around Zeir Anpin and Nukva, the precursor of the neutral realm of evil (kelipat noga, the "glowing shell").

chanoch adds: as one will see below this comment is misleading.

And chashmal is an allusion to "the light of the face of G‑d", mentioned in the Zohar (II:247a).

The Hebrew for "light of the face of G‑d" is "or penei E‑l"; this is spelled:

Alef-vav-reish pei-nun-yud alef-lamed = (1 + 6 + 200) + (80 + 50 + 10) + (1 + 30) = 378.

Its numerical value is the equal to that of "chashmal".

For [chashmal] is the light [shining out] of the supernal face [of Arich Anpin], drawn down through the two names E‑l spelled out as mentioned above. This is the mystical meaning of "the light of the face of G‑d".

Now, the numerical value [of "chashmal"] is the same as that of 6 times the name Havayah spelled out to equal 63.

6 x 63 = 378.

The grandparents are keter, and their fulfillment is when their grandchildren, Zeir Anpin and Nukva, are permeated with their heritage….

Thus, the 370 lights are derived from the name Havayah spelled out to equal 63, the numerical value of the regressive iteration of which is the same as that of the word for "suckling" ["yoneik"]. This is the mystical meaning of the phrase "A suckling will play."

It follows from all this that on the right side of the face are manifest 3 names Havayah spelled out to equal 63, and on the left side of the face are manifest another 3 names Havayah spelled out to equal 63.

Thus, the 175 years of Abraham's life express how the states of chesed originating in the shining face of Arich Anpin descend and manifest in Zeir Anpin.

G‑d promised Abraham, "You will be buried in ripe old age." (Gen. 15:15) Rashi explains this to mean that Abraham's son Ishmael would repent during his lifetime and that Abraham will die before his grandson Esau commits himself to a wicked lifestyle. In fact, Rashi continues, Abraham died 5 years before he was slated to in order that he not witness Esau go wicked. Esau in fact went wicked the day that Abraham died.

From this it is apparent that the fact that Abraham lived specifically 175 years (and not 180) is connected to getting satisfaction from children and grandchildren. We have seen here the mystical explanation for this. 175 signifies the five states of chesed of Arich Anpin - the "grandfather", or here, Abraham - (i.e. 5 x 26 = 130) manifest in Zeir Anpin - the "grandson", or here, Jacob (signified by the name Havayah spelled out to equal 45).

chanoch adds: In this comment I would exchange Jacob by the Name Israel as it is more closely aligned to Zeir Anpin.

As it is written, "The crown of the elderly is grandchildren." (Proverbs 17:6) The elderly, the grandparents, are keter, and their fulfillment is when their grandchildren, Zeir Anpin and Nukva, are permeated with their heritage, their five states of chesed shining forth from their glowing faces.

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