Wild and Wooly

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

The spiritual roots of the offerings of Cain and Abel illustrate mystical truths of forbidden mixtures.

This week's Torah portion includes the commandment regarding the prohibition against mixing wool and linen, known as "shaatnez".

The prohibition against shaatnez is explained in the context of [the mystical dimension of] the sin of Cain and Abel. In this context, the [mystical] essence of wool and linen and their place [in the spiritual hierarchy] is also explained.

Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. After the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Cain worked as a farmer and Abel as a shepherd. Cain brought G‑d an offering of his plants, and Abel an offering of his flocks, but G‑d accepted only Abel's offering. There are a number of explanations why this was so, but here the explanation focuses on the fact that Cain's offering was of flax.

chanoch adds: Flax is a blue-flowered herbaceous plant that is cultivated for its seed (linseed) and for textile fiber made from its stalks. Flaxseed is Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil or flax oil, is a colourless to yellowish oil obtained from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant. The oil is obtained by pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction. Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning it can polymerize into a solid form.

continuing:Flaxseed, which comes from flax or linseed, is a perennial plant with blue, white, yellow, and red flowers typically found and cultivated in cooler regions. Flaxseed is small, flat, ovular shaped seed of a tan to brown hue. It can be ground or cold pressed into an oil, making flaxseed a very versatile ingredient in food and cooking. Flaxseeds are mainly consumed for their health benefits. In ancient Egypt, flax was used extensively with priests and the upper classes, since it was considered a symbol of purity. During the time, the use of the seeds was not widespread and generally limited to animal feed. Throughout the middle ages, flaxseed was prescribed for gastrointestinal disorders due to its laxative properties, but it wasn’t until the last three decades that it has had an increased focus and study as part of the human diet. 12 Benefits for Flax and flaxseed: 1. Aids inn weight loss 2. Aids in digestion due to being high in fiber 3. Cut Carbs since it is high in calories 4. Fight Inflamation and Heart disease 5. Shiny Hair 6. 7. Smooth Supple Skin 8. Help with hyperlipedemia – which leads to heart disease 9. Reduces Cholesterol 10. Gluten Free Brenefits 11. High in Antioxidents 12. Fight Cancer

It is known that our Sages said that if someone leases his field to another person for [under] seven years, [the latter] should not sow it with flaxseed. (Bava Metzia 109a) The reason for this, explained in the Talmud, is because flax depletes the power of the soil, and it takes seven years to replenish it.

Our Sages further called the flax plant a type of "tree", because it is written, "…and hide among the flax wood". (Joshua 2:6)

Mystically, [the power of the earth] the above statement refers to [is the inner power of] the sefira of malchut, as it is written, "…an offering to G‑d from the fruit of the earth". (Gen. 4:3)

The vegetable kingdom is allegorically the world of Yetzira….

One of the appellations of malchut is the "earth", since malchut is the lowest sefira and thus the "ground"-level of each world. Additionally, the divine energy of the higher sefirot is "sown" in the "ground" of malchut, yielding produce in the next subsequent world.

Know that all vegetation and trees are manifestations of malchut of Yetzira.

The four worlds (Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira, and Asiya) correlate respectively to the four "kingdoms" of creatures: man, animal, vegetable, and mineral. Thus, the vegetable kingdom is rooted in the world of Yetzira. Thematically, this is because Yetzira is the world of the emotions, which "grow" and "mature" by virtue of the light of the intellect that shines on them.

Since the vegetable kingdom is allegorically the world of Yetzira, the ground in which the plant life grows is allegorized as the malchut of Yetzira.

[The power of the earth] is the spirit that tiferet leaves in her when he first makes her into a vessel. (Zohar II:101b)

The Sages say that "woman makes a covenant only with the one who turns her into a vessel" (Sanhedrin 22b), i.e. with her first husband, who deflowers her and makes her into a vessel to receive his semen. The Sages here allude to a psychological transformation that occurs within the woman when she first experiences marital relations, which will be partially elucidated in this passage, in which this "spirit" is identified as daat.

Tiferet here refers to Zeir Anpin in general, and malchut to Nukva.

Specifically, it is the name Ban [the name Havayah spelled out to have the numerical value of 52], and it is in her yesod. That is why it is called a "tree".

The inner energy of Nukva is represented by the name Ban.

Now Cain elevated the letters used to spell out this name Ban present in malchut up to tiferet, as "feminine water". The sin was that this name must remain always in malchut in order to raise "feminine water" so that [malchut] can receive the supernal light as "male water", both of them remaining within her.

Cain sought to make the female into a male….

"Male water" and "feminine water" are the Kabbalistic idiom for "arousal from above" and "arousal from below", respectively. As we have seen previously, the female principle innately yearns for union with the male principle, in order to combine the female drive for concretization of divine consciousness in the world with the male drive for ever more abstract and sublime levels of divine consciousness in oneself. Without rejuvenation from the male, the female loses inspiration and succumbs to the "gravitational" pull of the very material reality she initially seeks to conquer.

But Cain did not [simply] intend to raise "feminine water", but rather to remove it from [Nukva] entirely, returning it all the way to its source in Zeir Anpin itself.

Cain sought to make the female into a male, so to speak, forsaking its divine mission and destiny as the drive to concretize divine consciousness in the world and remaining in the abstract realm of Zeir Anpin, the emotions per se.

This is the mystical analogue of flaxseed that depletes the power of the earth for seven years. The "power of the earth" is the name Ban, which is the inner [divine] power of malchut. [Flaxseed] depletes the power of all the seven lower sefirot within her, alluded to here as seven years.

This is the [mystical] meaning of the verse, "And Cain brought from the fruits of the earth", meaning "[from the produce] that is termed 'the fruit of the earth' because it saps all the power of the earth", removing it from it and depleting it. Indeed, this is how our sages concluded that [Cain's offering] was flaxseed.

[Cain] offered this plant as an offering to G‑d, i.e. to Zeir Anpin, returning it to its source and leaving malchut bereft of the name Ban. This was Cain's sin.

The word for "G‑d" in this verse is the name Havayah, which generally refers to Zeir Anpin. Thus, Cain sought to elevate the flaxseed, the inner vitality of malchut, to Zeir Anpin, instead of keeping it in malchut so it could inspire Zeir Anpin to couple with it on its own level.

chanoch adds: With contemplation, one might connect the above discussion with the midrash of Lillith being Adam's first wife and having the desire to be on top. This is my opinion.

Abel [then] attempted to rectify Cain's error, and brought an offering of wool. The [mystical] explanation of this is as follows:

The source of the daat that Zeir Anpin imparts down to Nukva is in the supernal daat of the "beloved" mazal, as is known.

As we have seen previously, the word "mazal" refers in Kabbalah to a specific flow of divine energy, particular to thirteen such flows that constitute the "beard" of Arich Anpin. These are known generally as the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy. The eighth and thirteenth are the super-rational source of Abba and Imma, the partzufim of chochma and bina.

[This mazal is called "beloved"] for through [this level of daat], Abba and Imma unite, and from this [union] additional power is supplied to Zeir Anpin, enabling it to couple with Nukva and impart some of this spirit to her, as is explained in our exposition of the liturgy of the Shema recited before going to sleep, whose purpose is to kill off destructive forces.

This purity of purpose neutralizes the power of the forces of evil….

The flow of divine consciousness from the super-rational will (Arich Anpin) into the intellect (Abba and Imma), enables them to couple and produce emotions (Zeir Anpin). In common experience, this means that when a person experiences a true will to do or understand or acquire something, this will produces ideas in his mind about how to do, understand, or acquire this thing. The will drives his mind to gain new insight (by motivating the person to exhibit the selflessness that predicates new insight) and capture that insight in his conscious mind, reconstructing his worldview in its wake and thereby producing an emotional response to it. The now super-charged emotions are potent, and can produce "seed", i.e. inspiration, to Nukva, the power of expression, in order to actualize the imperative originating in the will.

This purity of purpose neutralizes the power of the forces of evil, who seek to derail the new Divine energy for their own purposes, as we have seen previously. This is the theme of the nightly recital of the Shema before going to sleep, and in particular those sections added when it is anticipated that the couple will engage in marital relations.

It follows that [Abel] offered wool in order to restore the influx of supernal daat, so that it also reach Zeir Anpin, enabling it in turn to restore this strength that Cain removed from [Nukva], i.e. the spirit referred to above.

Therefore Abel offered some of the choicest of his flock. This is because, as we have explained, Cain's sin [caused a blemish] in malchut of Yetzira. So Abel had to elicit [divine energy] from the supernal daat of Arich Anpin of Yetzira. And it is known that all the power [of this level of daat] is present within yesod of Yetzira, for yesod is called "alive". Thus, the inner essence of daat is yesod.

As we have explained previously, yesod is called "alive" because the male sexual organ (to which yesod corresponds anatomically) exhibits growth and quasi-independent movement. This, in turn, is so because the mind, emotion, and body's power is concentrated here as it is prepared to be transferred to the feminine principle.

In order for the spirit of malchut to be replenished, malchut must receive from yesod. As we saw, the inner life force of malchut of Yetzira is, allegorically, the power of the earth to produce vegetation. In order for this to be replenished, it must receive from the next higher form of life up, i.e. from the animal kingdom. Therefore, Abel had to bring an animal offering. Yesod is called "alive", which is also the word for "animal" (both being translations of the word "chai").

This is the mystical essence of sheep, because the word for "sheep" [in Hebrew, "keves"] permutes to spell the word for "lie down" ["shachav"], indicating that it alludes to the supernal lying down. This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "…fill the world and subdue it [in Hebrew, "kivshua"]" (Gen. 1:28), and the allusion of the conquered one "who lies with her" (Deut. 22:29).

"Keves" is spelled: kaf-beit-sin.

"Shachav" is spelled: shin-kaf-beit.

teaser The "lying down" here is a euphemism for marital relations, as seen from the quote at the end of the paragraph.

The Hebrew root for the word "to subdue", "kavash", is related to the word for "sheep", "keves", because sheep are easily subdued and led. Here, however, the relation is seen in the opposite way: the sheep (yesod) is the male who "conquers" the female and "lies down" with her. Inasmuch as the Hebrew word for "world", "eretz", alludes to malchut, the phrase "fill the world and subdue it" evokes the interpretation: "fill the feminine principle [with male vital seed] in marital relations with her."

Know as well that just as there is a higher [facial] beard, there is a lower [pubic] "beard" around the sefira of yesod, and understand these great mysteries, because just as there are 13 tufts of the higher beard, so are there thirteen tufts of the lower beard around yesod. This is the mystical meaning of [the Sages' statement that] "Great is circumcision, for thirteen covenants were made concerning it" (Nedarim 31b).

In the Biblical passage in which G‑d commands Abraham to circumcise himself and all his present and future male offspring, the word for "covenant" ("brit") occurs thirteen times (see Gen. 17). Clearly, this redundancy is not necessary for the prose of the story, and exists only to allude to the fact expressed in the Sages' statement.

The inner meaning of the 13 "covenants" made concerning circumcision is that this rite evokes the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, and brings the Jewish male child into this super-rational relationship with G‑d. [Jewish females are considered innately, automatically circumcised (Avoda Zara27a), and therefore no rite is necessary to initiate them into this covenant.] Thus, there is an innate connection between the upper beard, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, and the lower "beard", which surrounds the organ through which the individual is allowed to access the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

I have already told you [elsewhere] that Zeir Anpin is formed out of the netzach-hod-yesod of Arich Anpin, and that the [facial] beard of Zeir Anpin is formed out of the lower beard of [yesod of] Arich Anpin. This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "From the strait I called out to G‑d" (Psalms 118:5), for the Zohar (III:295a, in the Idra) refers this verse to the beard of Zeir Anpin, which issued from the mystical correlate of the wool of the sheep, i.e. the supernal yesod of Arich Anpin. Thus, the word "wool" [in Hebrew, "tzemer"] permutes to spell the word for "strait" ["meitzar"], this being the mystical significance of "From the strait I called out…."

"Tzemer" is spelled: tzadik-mem-reish; meitzar: mem-tzadik-reish.

From this you can also understand what I have told you, namely, that the yesod of Arich Anpin couples with itself, and out of [this coupling] issues Zeir Anpin, and for that reason it is called "from the strait". Understand this.

There is no explicit female counterpart to the partzuf of Arich Anpin, as there is for the partzufim of Abba and Zeir Anpin. Instead, the feminine aspect is implicit. Thus, the yesod of Arich Anpin contains both male and female elements, and therefore the "coupling" at this level is intrinsic. Since the respective male-female aspects of Arich Anpin are not fully articulated, it is called a "strait", a constricted version of this duality.

This is also the mystical significance of the shofar, which alludes to the verse, "From the strait I called out to G‑d; [He answered me in the broad places of G‑d]" (Psalms 118:5), for, as is known, it is narrow on one side and wide on the other.

To explain: The coupling that produces Zeir Anpin is in the yesod of Arich Anpin, but [when it first issues, Zeir Anpin] only manifests a small vav, which comprises only three [sefirot], for [the other] three are folded within the [manifest] three. This is the mystical significance of the sound that issues from the shofar, which comprises only three [elements] - fire, air, and water.

Zeir Anpin corresponds to the vav of the name Havayah, as we have explained previously, and the numerical value of the vav is 6, alluding to the six sefirot from chesed to yesod that metamorphose into the partzuf of Zeir Anpin. But a small vav alludes to the initial iteration of the emotions, i.e. the first three, principle emotions, in which the ancillary three emotions exist only implicitly.

As Zeir Anpin matures, he ascends in spiritual level and approaches Arich Anpin….

...we can deduce things about the spiritual worlds by observing the material world….

This verse is used here (and throughout Kabbalistic literature) to mean that since the phenomena of our material world are derived from their spiritual antecedents, we can deduce things about the spiritual worlds by observing the material world (within given limits and parameters, of course). Here, the physiological behavior of our body hair as we age alludes to spiritual truths in the supernal worlds.

It follows that Abel's offering aroused the supernal daat, and this increased the power of daat of Zeir Anpin, and allowed the spirit of the name Ban [Havayah spelled to have the numerical value of 52] to return to malchut, i.e. to her yesod.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "And G‑d turned to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering He did not turn". (Gen. 4:4-5) To explain: This "wool" descended from the supernal daat to Zeir Anpin, which is [permeated by] the name Mah [Havayah spelled out with the letter alef, equaling 45]. The combined numerical values of 45 and the word "wool" [in Hebrew, "tzemer"] is 375, the same as that of the word "turned" ["sha'ah"]. Thus, "…to Cain and his offering He did not turn." But He did turn to Abel, for he brought it down into malchut.

Zeir Anpin is associated with the name Mah (= 45).

"Tzemer" is spelled: tzadik-mem-reish = 90 + 40 + 200 = 330.

330 + 45 = 375.

"Sha'ah" is spelled: shin-ayin-hei = 300 + 70 + 5 = 375.

This indicates that G‑d's turning to (i.e. taking notice of and accepting) the offering was because it drew the "wool" (= 330, i.e. the yesod of Arich Anpin) into Zeir Anpin (45). G‑d did not turn to Cain's offering because he withdrew the wool from Zeir Anpin, i.e. he subverted the process by which divine consciousness and energy is transmitted into malchut.

Thus, it is written, "If you mend your ways, it will be forgiven." (Gen. 4:7) Meaning, "So far, you elevated the name Ban of malchut, which is its "feminine water", and you uprooted them from their proper place. But if you mend your ways, it will be forgiven. That is, you can 'carry' and elevate 'feminine waters', as is proper."

The word for "it will be forgiven" is "se'eit", which literally means "it will be carried, born, lifted". The imagery is that of G‑d carrying the weight of the sin and atoning for it, or of Him bearing the consequence of the sin, rather than it being born by the sinner. Here, the literal imagery of the word is "it will be lifted up" - i.e. G‑d tells Cain that he can, indeed, reconstitute the divine order by repenting of his misconceived plans, submitting to G‑d's vision of how male and female should function together, and thus allow the female to raise and elevate her yearning, her "feminine water", to the male, initiating the process of their coupling and ensuring the proper continuation of their continued existence and fulfillment of their divine mission together.

From all this we can understand the prohibition against shaatnez, and why it is permitted in performing the commandment of tzitzit. (See Pri Etz Chaim, Sha'ar HaTzitzit)

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sha'ar HaMitzvot and Ta'amei HaMitzvot, parashat Kedoshim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard"

Shabbat of the Eighth King

Kabbalah explains how Shabbat is the secret of the rectification of all Creation.

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

The portion of the Torah read this week opens: "Every man should fear his mother and his father, and keep My Shabbats, I am G‑d, your G‑d." (Lev.19:3)

Rabbi Chaim Vital will begin his exposition of the Arizal's teachings by explaining why the word "Shabbats" is in the plural when we would have expected the more usual singular form.

Now, [by understanding] the eighth king [as will be explained,] you will understand the two Shabbats the Torah refers to. For whenever mention is made of the Shabbat, it is mentioned twice. For example: "Keep My Shabbats" and "the Children of Israel will keep the Shabbat to make the Shabbat" (Ex. 31:16), etc. From the following explanation, you will also understand how those who say that our present sabbatical [cycle] is the second actually erred.

chanoch adds: Sometimes the Shemitah is called the Shabbat cycle. Lso it is important to understand he difference in meaning between the singular and the plural in the frame of Shabbat.

According to the sages of the Talmud, our world is destined to exist for no more than seven thousand years: six millennia of normal existence, followed by a millennium of rest. (Sanhedrin 97a). This seven-millennium time period is envisioned as one gigantic "week", and the six millennia of normal existence correspond to the six workdays and the millennium of rest and reward corresponding to the Shabbat.

In Kabbala, this imagery is expanded to the sabbatical cycle of six years of field labor followed by a year when the land is to lay fallow. The six years of agricultural work correspond to the six workdays and six millennia of normal existence, and the seventh, sabbatical year to the Shabbat and the seventh millennium.

chanoch adds: The above paragraph seems to mix the Shemitta period explained in Torah to the idea of 7 periods of 7000 years.

Furthermore, just as the agricultural cycle consists of seven sabbatical cycles totaling 49 years, followed by an additional year of rest - the jubilee - so is the entire seven-millennium period of the world's existence only one of seven such periods, which will be followed by a fiftieth, jubilee millennium. According to some opinions, our present seven-millennium period is the second such period since the creation of the world. This is why the Torah begins with the letter beit, the numerical value of which is 2. The Arizal, however, contends that this opinion is incorrect. To explain: When G‑d the emanated the ten sefirot, He first emanated the first three. After this was the [first,] supernal Shabbat. The Arizal now begins to describe the creation of the primordial world of Tohu ("Chaos"). It is important to bear in mind that this imperfect version of Creation was not a "mistake" or a miscalculation on G‑d's part, but rather a necessary stage in the unfolding of Creation.The first seven kings are understood to refer to the primordial, unrectified version of Creation… G‑d did not create time, of course, until He created our physical world, but before time there was a sequential progression of spiritual steps leading to our universe. This sequence may be referred to as "proto-time". Although all these steps "occurred" simultaneously in the "instant" before the creation of the physical world, they followed a certain developmental order, which we, as finite humans, would experience eventually as real time.

chanoch adds: Kabbalah explains this using the terms cause and effect and abbi Ashlag explains the creative process as the 4 phases.

In this context, we may speak of the process of the creation of the spiritual worlds preceding ours as if it happened in the context of what we call "time" (since we have no other way of describing a sequential progression). We must bear in mind, however, that time, as we know it, did not yet exist. Chanoch adds: This is cause and effect

When He emanated these [first] three, He did not do so in a wholly rectified manner, and they were not fully and properly rectified. Therefore, this day is not counted.

The exact nature of this not-fully-rectified emanation will be explained later.

Afterwards He emanated a different group [of sefirot], in seven other "days". These are the mystical correlates of the kings who ruled in the land of Edom. On the Shabbat [the seventh day of this primordial "week"], the eighth king, Hadar, was [also] emanated.

The emanation of the next seven sefirot is spoken of as occurring in seven "days", one day for each sefira. But since, as we said, this all is occurring before the creation of time, what this essentially means is that each sefira is a separate entity. These seven sefirot will, when time is created, manifest themselves as the seven days of the week, each sefira dominating a particular day.

Yesod is the sefira of inter-connection…since it expresses the drive and ability to relate and connect with another entity…

It is written in the Torah that there were eight kings who ruled the land of Edom before there was a king in the land of Israel. (Genesis 36:31-39; 1 Chronicles 1:43-51) Of the first seven of these kings, the Torah states that they ruled and they died, while of the eighth, Hadar, it only records that he ruled, not mentioning his death. Since Edom symbolizes the unrectified existence of evil, the first seven kings are understood to refer to the primordial, unrectified version of Creation described here, the world of Tohu.

[Editor's note:The death of Hadar is mentioned in Chronicles, but not in Genesis.]

Since the first three sefirot were not yet fully rectified, all these [lower seven] kings died. Since they were not rectified above, these kings could not bear the supernal light of the Emanator. Thus, since all these kings evinced strict judgment, they all died and were nullified.

The perfection of the emotions is dependent upon the rectification of the intellect, since emotional responses are primarily the result of some idea that is understood.

The rectification these sefirot lacked was their ability to contain or absorb the "light", i.e. creative energy, of G‑d. In their fragility, they shattered as soon as the higher light attempted to shine through them. The reason why these sefirot were so fragile was because they were immature and undeveloped. In this iteration, the sefirot were simple, one-dimensional manifestations of G‑d's attributes and did not inter-include any aspect of their sister-sefirot. They were therefore incapable of accepting any content other than their own intrinsic one. This rejection of anything not consonant with one's own world-view is the mentality of strict judgment (din).

I have already explained (see Etz Chaim 9:7-8) regarding the supernal rectification [process], that it consists of separating screens that enable the lower [entities] to receive light greater [than their intrinsic level] without being blinded. This is similar to how someone [is blinded] by looking at the light of the sun. Thus, the dimming of the light is [not a bad thing, but] on the contrary, the rectification.

By screening the divine light, G‑d created a new, more stable world that could withstand and transmit the light it received. The intensity of each sefira would be less, but this lack of intensity would enable each sefira to accommodate the "personality" of its sister-sefirot. The combined strengths of each sefira present in the others would enable the world comprising them to endure the divine light shining into it.

Still, when the eighth king, Hadar, was emanated, he emerged more rectified than the others did. He manifested the sefira of yesod; this was on the [first] Shabbat.

As we have said, the principal reason why the world of Tohu shattered was because the sefirot in it were too "egocentric" to interrelate. The reason this was so was because the predominant aspect of these sefirot was their malchut; each sefira of Tohu was in effect nothing more than the malchut of that sefira in general. Malchut is the sefira of the ego, inasmuch as it expresses the drive to rule, to impose oneself on reality. The malchuts of the sefirot clashed, and therefore the entire structure collapsed.

The eighth "king", or emanation, in contrast, was constructed out of the yesods of the various sefirot. Yesod is the sefira of inter-connection par excellence, since it expresses the drive and ability to relate and connect with another entity.

After this, the first three sefirot were rectified, as described in the Zohar. Then, the second week emerged, i.e. the seven lower sefirot, which we call nowadays chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod, and malchut. Malchut issued on the [seventh day, the] Shabbat.

Out of this emanation emerged a second set of seven middot (from chesed to malchut), which were more fully rectified than the first set of seven "kings". This second set of seven constituted a second week, or Shabbat-cycle.

Thus we have two Shabbats: the first being the first Shabbat, when Hadar was emanated, and the second Shabbat, when malchut was emanated the second time. This is the mystical meaning of the two Shabbats that are mentioned in many places, [as we said above].

You will now understand the mystical reason why we call the seven millennia [we are presently living in] the "second" sabbatical-period. It is because they are the second [order of creation] after the "kings of the land of Edom".

Thus, our present sabbatical-period (of seven thousand years) is not the second because it was preceded by another period of seven thousand physical years, but because it follows the spiritual "period" of Tohu, the emanation of the seven "kings" that preceded the present order, that of Tikun.

In this respect they [i.e. the earlier authorities] erred [as well]: They said that if this is the second sabbatical-period, then there must certainly be [in the end] a total of seven such periods.

Just as the agricultural jubilee-cycle consists of seven sabbatical-cycles, the macrocosmic jubilee-cycle should logically consist of seven sabbatical-cycles of seven thousand years each. In other words, after the seventh millennium of our time period, there will be (according to these opinions) another five sabbatical-periods (of seven thousand years each). The Arizal will now explain why this is not the case.

Understand, however, that Hadar, the eighth king, is entirely [composed of] yesod, even though he precedes the chesed that we nowadays call chesed.

Tikun is not the ultimate fulfillment and highest vision of Creation…

When we refer to chesed, we mean (unless we specify otherwise) the rectified sefira of chesed in the world of Tikun. In the normal order of sefirot, yesod is the sixth emotion, and chesed is the first - so chesed precedes yesod. When we consider the initial emanation of the sefirot of Tikun, however (and note that they all emerged from Hadar, who was constructed wholly out of the yesods of the primordial sefirot), yesod precedes chesed (and all the other sefirot as well).

After the [second set] of seven sefirot were emanated, those other "kings" came back to be rectified, and they were all absorbed into the [second set of] seven sefirot.

When the first set of seven sefirot, those of Tohu, collapsed, they didn't just disappear. These sefirot were much more intense and powerful than those of the subsequent world of Tikun, as we have mentioned. Their shattered fragments were therefore "particles" of great energy and potential. The challenge of the world of Tikun is to assimilate and integrate these supercharged energy particles as far as possible. In fact, this is the whole reason why G‑d created the world of Tohu in the first place and did not just create the world of Tikun from the beginning. Despite its name, Tikun is not the ultimate fulfillment and highest vision of Creation. The goal is to integrate these two worlds and produce from them a third order of existence much greater than either of them in and of themselves.

After the element of strict judgment had been removed from them and they had been purified of it, like waste matter, the remaining [elements of these sefirot] were absorbed and sweetened in the [second set of] seven sefirot, each one in accordance with its nature.The Shattering of the Vessels effectively neutralized the egocentricity of the sefirot of Tohu…

The Shattering of the Vessels effectively neutralized the egocentricity of the sefirot of Tohu. Thus rid of their negative, judgmental, aspects, they were able to be absorbed into the sefirot of the world of Tikun. This process is called "sweetening", inasmuch as it evokes the imagery of some sour, poisonous substance being distilled and purified of its odious elements.

[This was possible] because those "kings" were themselves these [second] seven sefirot.

The sefirot of Tohu and Tikun, though radically different in their orientation, possessed the same "identities". Chesed of Tohu was chesed, just as chesed of Tikun; the difference lay only in the way chesed was expressed. In this sense, the sefirot of Tohu may be considered simply immature, undeveloped versions of the sefirot of Tikun.

It follows that the statement in the Zohar (III:135b) that "some of them rectified and some of them were not" does not mean that only some of the "kings" were rectified and others not, for all eight of the "kings" were rectified. Rather, it means that in each of them, part of it was not rectified and part of it was.

As has been explained in our discussion of the 288 Sparks, sparks of each [sefira] fell [from Tohu into the subsequent, lower worlds of Tikun]. The lights remained in Atzilut, and then what fell from Beriya was rectified in Yetzira, as is known.

The death of the seven "kings" of Tohu is alluded to in the Torah's account of creation in the verse: "and the spirit of G‑d was hovering over the water." (Gen. 1:2)

The Hebrew word for "was hovering" ("merachefet") may be split into two sets of letters: mem-taf and reish-pei-chet. The first set (mem-taf) spells the word for "died" (in Hebrew, "meit"), and the numerical value of the second set is 288. This word may thus be read: "the 288 died". This alludes, according to Kabbala, to the 288 Sparks of the world of Tohu that fell after the collapse of that world and the shattering of its sefirot.

After the coming of Mashiach will be infinite ascents of the new physical-spiritual order of Creation…

Every sefira, as we have mentioned previously, is composed of its "light" and its "vessel". The "light" is the divine creative energy that determines the nature and identity of the sefira, while the "vessel" is the means through which this energy is expressed, the interface between the light and the rest of reality. When the sefirot of Tohu shattered, it was the vessels that broke.

The first world of Tikun created after the shattering of the vessels was the world of Atzilut. The consciousness of this world is one of total immersion in the awareness of G‑d, and thus the lights were able to remain in this world.

With regard to the broken vessels, however, only the more sublime aspects were able to remain and be assimilated into this world; the lower, more self-aware aspects were rejected and fell further, into the world of Beriya. There, the same process was repeated: the more sublime aspects were assimilated and the grosser aspects were rejected. This process continued in the worlds of Yetzira and Asiya, and finally, the coarsest aspects of Tohu became absorbed and embedded in our physical world.

This process set the stage for the process of "elevating the sparks", or liberating the raw, great power of Tohu from the physical context into which it became entrenched. The conclusion of this process is what will precipitate the cosmic Redemption of all reality and the coming of Mashiach.

Thus, after the Redemption there will be no additional, physical sabbatical-periods akin to our present world, since physicality will already have been rectified. What will occur after the coming of Mashiach will be infinite ascents of the new physical-spiritual order of Creation into higher and higher levels of divinity and consciousness of G‑d.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim. From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria.