Kindness to Animals

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

The Ari was very careful not to kill any bug...even when they bit him.

Regarding killing animals, it is mentioned in the Zohar (2:68b) that no creature was created purposelessly.

It is [therefore] forbidden to kill purposelessly, as the Sages state:

chanoch adds: Halachot – Torah regulations sometimes referred to as recommendations or laws – have a hierarchy. The highest level of this hierarchy is a alacha expressed in the Zohar.

"All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created, He created only for His honor, as it is written, All that is called in My Name and for My honor, I created it, I formed it, I even made it." (Avot 6:11; Isaiah 43:7)

We will see now how the Arizal took this statement to extreme conclusions, conducting himself with extreme piety in this matter.

My teacher [the Arizal] was very careful not to kill any bug, even the smallest and lowliest, such as fleas, lice, flies, and the like, even when they bit him.

chanoch adds: In my opinion, the reason the ri did not kill a bug in reaction to a bite is the Ari lived the reality that there is a message to him from the bite.

We know what the Sages say, commenting on the verse, "His enemies will also make peace with him," (Proverbs 16:7) that some say this refers to the dog and others say this refers to the snake, and still others say this refers to the flea. (Y. Terumah 8:3)

This idea is the answer of Rabbi Elazar to Rabbi Chizkiyah recorded in the Zohar (2:68b), where the mystical meaning of the verse, "Will the snake bite without whispering?" (Eccl. 10:11) is explained.

Will the snake bite without whispering?

Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Chizkiyah were walking and came across a snake. Rabbi Chizkiyah was about to kill it, but Rabbi Elazar told him not to. When Rabbi Chizkiyah protested, saying that it is a dangerous creature, Rabbi Elazar quoted the above verse, interpreting it to mean that a snake only bites a person if G‑d "whispers" to him to do so. G‑d created snakes in order to kill certain people and thereby prevent them from doing some evil.

To be sure, we should not kill any creature unnecessarily, but refraining from killing animals that pose a threat to human life (or communicate diseases) contradicts the requirements of Jewish law, and it is doubtful whether any Torah authority would permit this. Indeed, it is permitted to kill harmful snakes on the Sabbath, when killing is otherwise altogether prohibited.

The Arizal, we may presume, did not have to worry about leaving snakes alive because he did not have to fear being stuck down by one to prevent him from sinning. On the other hand, we see that he was bitten by insects and bugs. The question is how the Arizal could refrain from killing snakes and the like and allow them to pose a threat to others' lives. Perhaps the Arizal only meant that we should not kill snakes in their natural, wild habitat, but that if they venture into heavily peopled areas, we should kill them (or if possible, return them back to the wild).

But all of this is just conjecture. It could just as well be that the Arizal advocated avoiding killing creatures altogether, even at the expense of human life.

It is also not proper to kill or despise lice, which are born and created out of sweat. This is true especially [of lice produced on the heads] of good people. Sweat is the excess [energy] of the person and his dross, and from it these lice are created; this being the case, it is a boon and a rectification for the person when lice are created out of the sweat of his body, for in this way his excess, dross, and evil is excreted. [Since they perform a positive function,] we should not despise them.

chanoch's Commentary

We see from the translators comments the difference between the religious world view and the Kabbalah. The religious world view looks only at what one can view physically. The Kabbalah looks to the internal and intuitive sense. We also learn about the Kabbalists who utilize the science of their times to explain and justify their intuitive judgements.

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

Mystical Inundations

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

Kabbalah explains the mystical roots of the waters of the Great Flood.

“The water prevailed fifteen cubits above, and the mountains were covered.” (Gen. 7:20)

Thus, during the Flood, the highest mountaintop was submerged 15 cubits.

Let us understand why [the mountaintops were submerged] fifteen cubits, no more and no less. Furthermore, once [the Torah] says that [“the water prevailed fifteen cubits] above”, why must it say that “the mountains were covered”? This is implied in the word “above”!

It is enough to say simply that the water prevailed fifteen cubits above the mountains. What is gained by saying that they were covered?

The answer: The sin of the Generation of the Flood was wasteful emission of seed. It is known that this act causes above [the same thing, namely,] that the drop [of divine beneficence] issues from the male [i.e. Zeir Anpin] without being posited in the female [i.e. Nukva]. Rather, it is captured by the forces of evil.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse: “And G‑d saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth.”(Ibid. 6:12)/p

Before the Flood…wasting seed was rampant….

The verb “to corrupt” (in Hebrew, “hashcheit”) also means “to waste”. Thus, the phrase “for all flesh had corrupted…” can also mean, “for all flesh had wasted its way on the earth”. This immediately evokes the story of Judah’s son Onan, where we are told, “When he engaged in marital relations with his [dead] brother’s wife, he wasted it on the earth, in order not to give seed to his brother.”(Ibid. 38:9) The verse describing the state of the earth before the Flood thus indicates that wasting seed was rampant.

“The earth” refers to the supernal “earth”, [which was destroyed.] And in what did its destruction consist? “That all flesh had destroyed…”, i.e. that the supernal yesod, which is termed “all”, had “destroyed its way on the earth”, and not in Nukva.

“Earth” is an appellation for Nukva / malchut, which receives the seed of Zeir Anpin and develops into fruition and expression.

In the verse, “To You, O G‑d, is the greatness [“gedula”, a synonym for chesed], and the might [gevura], and the beauty [tiferet], and the victory [netzach], and the majesty [hod], for all [referring to yesod] that is in heaven and earth, to You, O G‑d, is the dominion [“mamlacha”, a synonym for malchut]“ (Chronicles I 29:11), yesod is referred to as “all” because all the divine beneficence of the preceding sefirot flows into it and through it to malchut.

In the verse quoted, yesod is described as positing its seed on the earth, i.e. on the surface of the earth, rather than in the earth.

In this way, [Nukva] was “destroyed”, for it could not elevate feminine water at all. Therefore [G‑d] brought the flood upon them.

When the masculine water mates with her…the states of gevura are sweetened….

Since the flow from yesod was directed toward the forces of selfishness and evil, rather toward Nukva, Nukva could not elicit the flow of divine beneficence toward it. “Elevating feminine water” is the allegorical term for arousing or eliciting flow from above.

[Normally, Nukva can] elevate her feminine water, which is states of gevura. And when the masculine water mates with her states of gevura [in her feminine water], the states of gevura are sweetened.

As we have seen previously, the feminine principle is constructed out of states of gevura, since it needs to be very judgmental in order to interface with the material world, which is a priori antithetical to G‑dliness. In order that these states of gevura not leave her with an entirely negative attitude, she must periodically “mate” with the male principle, in which chesed predominates. This mitigation of Nukva’s gevura-states by Zeir Anpin’s chesed-states is termed “sweetening” the gevura.

This is the meaning of “…to work it”, [which, according to the Sages, refers to] the active commandments, for [by performing the active commandments] we draw down masculine water upon us; “…and to guard it” refers to the passive commandments, which guarded the garden so that evil could not attach itself.

“And G‑d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it” (Gen. 2:15) The Sages comment: “‘To work it’ refers to the active commandments, while ‘to guard it’ refers to the passive commandments.” Here, the active commandments elicit the masculine water while the passive commandments are feminine water. The passive commandments are clearly associated with gevura, the judgmentality that guards the garden from intrusion by forces antithetical to G‑d consciousness.

But in the present case, [i.e. that of the world before the Flood] there was no masculine water at all; rather, there were only severe states of judgment.

Unable to be “sweetened” by “mating” with masculine water (which was diverted into the forces of evil by the sin of wasting seed), the feminine gevura states remained in their full force. This predominance of gevura in the world precipitated the Flood.

The five states of judgment are the five letters of the name Elokim….

It is known that the five states of judgment are the five letters of the name Elokim, and that they originate in the hei of this name. Each of these states of gevura comprises ten sub-levels. This is the significance of the hei-yud of the name Elokim, meaning 5 times 10.

The name Elokim, we know, is associated with the left axis of the sefirot, that of gevura. The chesed-gevura-tiferet-netzach-hod of this name are inter-included of ten sub-sefirot each, giving 50 total sub-states of gevura.

The numerical value of the letters hei and yud are 5 and 10, respectively.

These are the fifteen cubits [of water depth] that ascended [above the highest mountaintop].

The 15 cubits allude to the 5 and the 10 of the name Elokim.

The water is the feminine water mentioned above, from which the hei-yud had been withdrawn, leaving alef-lamed-mem of Elokim.

The states of gevura within the feminine water, as stated, could not be “sweetened” by the masculine water and form part of the harmonious functioning of the masculine and feminine principles, so they separated from the feminine water and assumed a life of their own, so to speak. The fifteen cubits of water allude to the absence of these two (hei = 5 and yud = 10) states of gevura from the feminine water.

This is the mystical meaning of the word “above”, for it can be read to mean “above the hei”, [referring to the states of gevura] that were withdrawn above the hei [i.e. above the feminine water].

These states of gevura ascended above her head, i.e. to the level of the upper third of tiferet [of Zeir Anpin].

We have seen previously that Nukva is positioned initially such that the top of her head is level with the line dividing the upper third of Zeir Anpin’s tiferet from its lower two-thirds. This simply means that Nukva expresses directly only the lower midot of Zeir Anpin. Chesed, gevura, and the upper third of tiferet are the “pure” midot; the midot oriented toward external expression are the lower two-thirds of tiferet, netzach, and hod. (Yesod and malchut are technically the drive toward and means of expression of the midot, rather than midot proper.)

The upper third of tiferet is the intellect of tiferet; the lower two thirds of tiferet are the chesed-gevura-tiferet and netzach-hod-yesod of tiferet. The intellect of any sefira is oriented chiefly towards its source in the sefirot above it, while the midot of that sefira are oriented chiefly outwards and downwards, towards expression in the realms below it.

They continued to ascend to the level of chesed and gevura, which are called “the mountains”, as opposed to netzach and hod, which are called “the hills”.

Mountains can be envisioned as protrusions from the earth; the expression of the earth’s “desire” or “tendency” to reach beyond itself. Thus, the midot, oriented outward toward external reality, are “protrusions” of the partzuf outward. Since the intensity of consciousness is greater in chesed and gevura than it is in netzach and hod, the former are called “mountains” relative to the latter, which are called “hills”.

As is known, in the generation of the Flood, Zeir Anpin and Nukva were back to back. This is alluded to by the two words “mountain”, “mountain”, whose numerical values are that of the name Elokim in regression [plus 5, for the value of the five letters of the name - see Likutei Torah, Shemot, s.v. U-Moshe Hayah Ro’eh Tzon].

Because of the sins of the generation, Zeir Anpin and Nukva could not face each other….

Because of the sins of the generation, Zeir Anpin and Nukva could not face each other; they were not oriented toward mutual cross-fertilization, as we mentioned above.

The word for “mountain” is “har” (spelled hei-reish): 5 + 200 = 205.

The regression of the name Elokim (spelled alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem) is:

alef, alef-lamed, alef-lamed-hei, alef-lamed-hei-yud, alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem.

The numerical value of this regression is:

1 + (1 + 30) + (1 + 30 + 5) + (1 + 30 + 5 +10) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40) = 5(1) + 4(30) + 3(5) + 2(10) + 1(40) = 5 + 120 + 15 + 20 + 40 = 200.

Thus, we see that the back-to-back state of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, alluded to by the “mountains” of chesed and gevura being submerged in the water, alludes in turn to the regression of the name Elokim, i.e. the withdrawal of the divine beneficence indicated by this name from reality.

Thus, [Nukva’s] states of gevura ascended to this level. It is know that at this level is where yesod of Imma [reaches and stops] and is revealed, and that the source of [Nukva’s] states of gevura is in yesod of Imma.

Yesod of Imma, as we know, is the drive within the intellect for expression. It descends to the level of chesed and gevura of Zeir Anpin, for that is as far as the intellect can descend and act as the motivating force behind the expression of the emotions. That is, chesed and gevura of Zeir Anpin are the lowest levels that sustain any “memory” of the intellect that spawned them. Subsequent levels must take the inspiration of the intellect but “forget” the idea itself in order to concentrate on getting the conclusion of the idea out into the world.

Imma, the partzuf of bina, is associated with the left axis of the sefirot, and thus its drive toward expression is the source of the gevura-aspect of Nukva.

This is the meaning of the Zohar’s statement that in the Flood “the lower waters mixed with the upper waters”. The meaning is also that the states of gevura in her “rain” mixed with the states of gevura in Imma.

The Flood was the immersion of the world in the original intellect, or idea, that gave rise to it….

In the Flood, the gevura-states of Nukva could not, as we saw, be “sweetened” by her “husband”, Zeir Anpin, so they had to return to their source in their “mother”, Imma, to be rectified. Thus, the Flood was the immersion of the world in the original intellect, or idea, that gave rise to it, in order to renew it. True, this was a purification process, just as a return to the original intellectual construct that gave rise to one’s emotional makeup is a purifying experience. However, such a flood of renewing energy can also be destructive, destroying the imperfect, corrupt, degenerate emotional makeup (“world”) that was spawned by that idea but developed along selfish lines.

This is probably why most people tend to avoid facing the real issues in life. Tracing the threads of our existence back to their source offers the promise of renewal, purification, and rejuvenation, but the price is the potential destruction of the “world” or “civilization” we have carefully constructed to serve our own ends.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, “all the wellsprings of the abyss split open…” (Gen. 7:11), referring to the states of gevura in Rachel [i.e. Nukva], “…and the storehouses of heaven were opened”, referring to yesod of Imma, located in “heaven”, i.e. the top third of tiferet.

In this context, the lower waters, the abyss, are the feminine waters of Nukva, and the upper waters, the storehouses of heaven, are the waters of yesod of Imma. “Heaven” is often associated with tiferet, as contrasted to “earth”, which indicates malchut.

The words for “and the storehouses…” may be seen as 15 + 200, referring to the 200 regressive manifestations of the name Elokim. The rest of the letters, together with the kolel, are 15; these are the 15 letters of the regression of Elokim.

The phrase “and the storehouses of heaven were opened” is composed of 15 letters. If we consider the reish of the word for “storehouses” (in Hebrew, “arubot”) separately, this leaves 14 letters. 14 plus the kolel (1) is 15.

We saw above that the numerical value of the regression of the name Elokim is 200, and if we count the letters used in this regression we see that they are 15 in number. 200 is the numerical value of the letter reish.

This is the mystical significance of the word for “flood” [in Hebrew, “mabul”]. They issue via the back of Zeir Anpin, for that is where the regressions [“backs”] of the names Ab [=72], Sag [=63], and Mah [=45] are situated. These use 26 letters; 3 times 26, gives 78, the numerical value of the word for “flood”.

The word used for “regression” in the text is “achorayim”, which literally means “back”. We are bidden to visualize the name facing away from us, returning upward to its source. We first see the back of the first letter, then the first two, then the first three, and so on.

The name Ab is spelled yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-vav hei-yud.

The regression of this name is:

yud-vav-dalet; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud – vav-yud-vav; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud – vav-yud-vav - hei-yud

The name Sag is spelled yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-alef-vav hei-yud.

The regression of this name is:

yud-vav-dalet; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud – vav-alef-vav; yud-vav-dalet – hei-yud – vav-alef-vav – hei-yud

The name Mah is spelled yud-vav-dalet hei-alef vav-alef-vav hei-alef.

The regression of this name is:

yud-vav-dalet; yud-vav-dalet – hei-alef – yud-vav-dalet – hei-alef – vav-alef-vav; yud-vav-dalet – hei-alef – vav-alef-vav - hei-alef

In each case, it can be seen that 26 letters are used in the regression.

“Mabul”, meaning “flood” is spelled: mem-beit-vav-lamed = 40 + 2 + 6 + 30 = 78.

The word for “flood”, “mabul”, thus alludes to the withdrawal of the divine life-force indicated by these iterations of the name Havayah from the world.

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

Towering Blunders

Kabbalah teaches how Nimrod was reincarnated into Nebuchadnezzar

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

Toward the end of parashat Noah, the Torah relates the story of the Tower of Babel. (Gen.11:1-9) According to the Oral Torah, the king who masterminded and led this revolt against G‑d was Nimrod, who was mentioned in the preceding chapter. (Gen. 10:8 ff)

Know that the incident of the Tower [of Babel] and Nimrod transmigrated into [the person and career of] Nebuchadnezzar. This is why he erected the statue in the Dura valley.

"King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and erected it in the plain of Dura in the country of Babylonia." (Daniel 3:1)

A cubit is about a foot and a half, so this statue was around 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. Nebuchadnezzar was a reincarnation of Nimrod, and the statue was a "reincarnation" of the Tower of Babel.

Just as in the time of Nimrod, when the whole world spoke the same language and had one ruler, Nebuchadnezzar also ruled the whole world. Thus, it is written, "I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High", (Isaiah 14:14), [the numerical value of the word for "clouds"] alluding to the seventy-two nations.

The verse quoted was spoken by (or reflects the sentiments of) Nebuchadnezzar. The numerical value of the word for "cloud" (in Hebrew, "av", spelled ayin-beit = 70 + 2) is 72. Normally, the Torah speaks of seventy nations; it is not clear what the additional 2 refers to.

chanoch adds: There is so much that one can learn from the above 2 paragraphs. Here is the original hebrew verse:

אעלה על-במתי עב אדמה לעליון

The 4th word ayin bet is translated as cloud. Do you really see a word with a deep essence of “see a house” as actually meaning cloud? I don't. The Ari is presenting the idea of Nimrod and Nebuchadnezzar being, at a minimum, of the same soul and the statue being similar to the Tower of Babel. The full translation in English is - I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.'. Now substitute the 72 Names for cloud. Does it make sense? The translator said “cloud” so it would be understood yet it corrupted the understanding and hides the relationship since the translator does not have the job to tie everything together. Yet the Ari and students of Kabbalah do have this task. This is my opinion.

[Nebuchadnezzar] wanted the Jewish people to bow down to [this statue] along with [everyone else] (Daniel 3:3-30) and indeed, had Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (G‑d forbid) bowed down to it, Israel would not have been able to arise [out of its exile].

King Nebuchadnezzar also intended to build a tower and a city…

Nebuchadnezzar had dreamt that he saw a statue whose head was gold, whose chest and arms were silver, whose stomach and thighs were copper, whose legs were iron, and whose feet were iron and clay. Daniel told him that the components of this statue were the kingdom of Babylonia (the gold head) and the empires that would succeed it in ruling over the Jews. By making a similar statue entirely of gold, Nebuchadnezzar sought to subvert the prophecy and perpetuate his kingdom, the kingdom of Babylonia.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (whose Babylonian names were Shadrach, Meisach, and Abednego) were Daniel's Jewish companions who refused to bow down to this statue. Nebuchadnezzar punished them by having them thrown into a fiery furnace, but they emerged unscathed.

[Nebuchadnezzar] also intended to build a tower and a city, as it is written, "Is this not the great [city of] Babylon that I built up [into a royal house with my powerful strength, to glorify my splendor]!?" (Daniel 4:7)

The people who built the Tower of Babel had said, "Let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top reaches the heavens, and we will [thereby] achieve glory." (Gen. 11:4)

He built the statue in place of the tower. He wanted to receive the divine beneficence via the seventy [celestial] princes, hoping that perhaps in this way Israel would be unable to arise [from its exile] and G‑d's beneficence would be directed toward the forces of evil.

chanoch adds: Do you think a human being thinks about Holyness and evil in this way? Obviously the Ari does and he is describing the unconscious thoughts of Nimrod.

G‑d set up the workings of the world such that, ideally, His beneficence flows primarily and directly to the forces of holiness and goodness, in order that they have what they need to carry out His purpose. Only a residual flow of beneficence reaches the forces of evil - just enough to keep them in existence so that they can fulfill their role in the scheme of things. Evil also does not receive its life-force directly from G‑d; rather, each nation receives its divine flow via its celestial, spiritual archetypal angel (or "prince"). This is why non-Jews are allowed to believe in a certain degree of idolatry, i.e. that G‑d shares or distributes His power to other celestial beings.

However, when those who should be acting righteously sin, they forfeit their preeminence and increase the power of evil, allowing it to receive the divine flow first. The forces of good then have to receive their beneficence via the forces of evil. This is the condition of exile.

He – Nimrod - was the keter of evil. This is why he was known as the king of Sheshach (Jeremiah 25:26, 51:41) for the numerical value of Sheshach is the same as that of keter – 620.

"Sheshach" in at-bash is "Bavel", "Babylonia".

"Sheshach": spelled shin-shin-caf = 300 + 300 + 20 = 620. "Keter": spelled kaf-taf-reish = 20 + 400 + 200 = 620.

G‑d, in His mercy, confounded his plan and ruined his intentions, and the statue fell on its face, for it was overcome by Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

They were saved from the fiery furnace just as our father Abraham had been saved. Similarly, G‑d humbled Nimrod before our father Abraham, and he was saved from the fiery furnace.

When Abraham became known as a crusader against idolatry, Nimrod had him thrown in a fiery furnace, but Abraham emerged unscathed.

When Nimrod saw that his scheme [to get rid of Abraham] failed, he gathered four kings and waged war against five kings, all in order to snatch the divine beneficence from our father Abraham.

Nimrod and his people…knew the mystical names of G‑d and employed them for practical use…

After the incident with Nimrod and the fiery furnace, Abraham and his family left Babylonia to eventually settle in the Land of Israel. The Torah then relates how king Amrafel of Shinar (another name for Babylonia) joined forces with three other neighboring kings and waged war against five kings of city-states in the Land of Israel. When they conquered them, Abraham went to rescue his nephew Lot (who had been taken captive) and defeated this confederacy of four kings (Gen. 14). The oral tradition identifies Amrafel with Nimrod. (Gen. 14:1, Rashi)

When Nimrod and his people built the Tower of Babel, G‑d said, "Behold, they are one people with one language, and this is what they have begun to do. Now, shall nothing be denied them of all they scheme to do?" (Gen. 11:6)

How could G‑d say, "Shall nothing be denied them?" Even though man does possess free choice, would it be so difficult for G‑d to prevent them from fulfilling their evil schemes?

Why, then, does G‑d apparently have to do something to ensure that mankind will not be able to do all it wants?

What they were after, rather, was the following: They knew the [mystical] names of G‑d and employed them for practical use. They were familiar with all the various angels and their positions in the celestial hierarchy and were able to [control a specific angel by using a divine name to] adjure the angel that controlled it.

This is what is meant by the technique of adjuration via the use of holy names. We know how to use them to adjure a lower angel in the name of the higher angel that influences and controls it. If [the lower angel] attempts to do other than what we have adjured it to do, it will not work at all. [The Generation of the Dispersion] knew all this.

With the knowledge that they used to manipulate the divine names, they caused divine beneficence to descend to idols…

Thus, it is written, "Then it was begun to call in the name of G‑d." (Genesis 4:26) For in the times of Enoch, they knew how to manipulate G‑d's names. The explanation given to this verse by Onkelos, that [in this era] mankind began to serve idols [accords with this explanation]. For it means that with the knowledge that they used to manipulate the divine names, they caused divine beneficence to descend to idols. Thus, both explanations mean the same thing.

Now, this technique would not have worked had they not known how to combine the letters and names in Hebrew, for it is impossible to manipulate these names in any other language. Thus, it is written, "The whole earth was of one language and united words." The numerical value of the words for "one language" [in Hebrew, "safah achat", plus the kolel] is the same as that of the words "the holy tongue" [in Hebrew, "lashon hakodes h"].

"Safah achat": spelled sin-pei-hei alef-chet-tav = 300 + 80 + 5 + 1 + 8 + 400 +1 (to represent the word itself) = 795.

"Lashon hakodesh": spelled lamed-shin-vav-nun hei-kuf-dalet-shin = 30 + 300 + 6 + 50 + 5 + 100 + 4 + 300 = 795.

"United words" refers to the use of G‑d's names, for they express His oneness, and [their use involves combining and] unifying them.

The phrase, "And they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower'" refers to the idol they wanted to make.

They wanted to behave as bad as they wished and not submit to the rules of holiness…

The phrase, "whose top reaches heaven" refers to the fact that they wanted to give this idol the ability to channel the divine beneficence to them by manipulating G‑d's names, as above; they knew that this idol would be powerless unless it could receive power from holiness.

Their intention was that it would force divine beneficence to be channeled to them, via their use of these names, even though they would not behave properly [and earn the divine blessing]. They wanted to behave as bad as they wished and not submit to the rules of holiness. After all, it takes great effort to deny oneself the material lusts, and they wanted to enjoy the pleasures of this world [unhindered] and have the idol channel goodness to them by force of the divine names, as we said.

The one who masterminded all this was Nimrod, for he was the leader of the Generation of the Dispersion. He was extremely adept at this technique of manipulating [divine names].

The same was Nebuchadnezzar's intention, for he was a reincarnation of the wicked Nimrod. Therefore, the letters that make up their names are similar [as we will show].

"Nebuchadnezzar" is spelled: nun-beit-vav-chaf-dalet-nun-tzadik-reish.

"Nimrod" is spelled: nun-mem-reish-vav-dalet.

The [five] letters that spell "Nimrod" can be aligned with the [first five] letters that spell "Nebuchadnezzar", and the last three letters [of "Nebuchadnezzar"] spell the word for "ruler" [in Hebrew, "netzer"].

"Netzer" is spelled: nun-tzadik-reish.

The beginning and last letters of "Nimrod" and "Nebuchad" are the same: nun and dalet.

chanoch adds: The first and last letter technique is a tool to convey similar energies.

Thus, "Nebuchadnezzar" can be interpreted as meaning "king Nebuchad", "Nebuchad" alluding to Nimrod.

The idol-statue that Nebuchadnezzar made was intended to fulfill the same function as the city and idol-tower that Nimrod built.

Furthermore, Nebuchadnezzar also built his statue with the power of divine names, for he took the headband of the High priest, on which was engraved G‑d's name Havayah, and placed it on the mouth of the idol.

The priestly garments, including the High priest's headband, had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar with the fall of Jerusalem and taken to Babylonia.

Had they not known Hebrew, they would not be able to manipulate G‑d's names…

Thus, the statue spoke and said, "I am G‑d, your G‑d." It was actually speaking the truth, for the divine name [on the headband] was speaking, but the people were tricked into thinking that the statue was saying this.

Daniel climbed up to the statue's head with ladders they brought him, because he said he wanted to kiss the statue. When he kissed it, he removed [the headband] from its mouth, and it immediately toppled. It could not stand naturally for it was sixty cubits tall and only six cubits wide; it was only because of the divine power of the name Havayah [engraved on the headband] that it was able to stand.

About this it is written, "I will punish Bel in Babylonia, and I will remove from his mouth what he has swallowed." (Jeremiah 51:44) Bel was the idol of Babylonia. What was "swallowed" in his mouth was the name Havayah…

This is the meaning of, "Behold, they are one people with the same language", meaning that had they not known Hebrew, they would not be able to manipulate G‑d's names. But "this they have begun to do", meaning that the sole reason they were able to begin this was because they spoke Hebrew. Therefore, "they will not be withheld", for by using the divine names and their power to adjure [angels], they would be able to do whatever they wanted.

The parable for this is that once there was a king who once gave the keys to his storerooms to a number of people, who then could enter his storehouses whenever they wanted. In order to prevent [such abuse], the king changed the locks, and these people could no longer open them.

G‑d did the same here. He changed His names, as it is written, "Come, let us descend and confound their speech". (Gen. 11:7) Furthermore, he confounded their language, so they could no longer speak the Holy language, and even if they would try to adjure the angels in other languages, this would be totally ineffective. He therefore made them forget Hebrew, and thus they no longer knew how to do anything [like this].

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

Holy Unions

The rectification of sexuality is fundamental to fixing the world

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

The portion of the Torah read this week describes the famous story of the flood.

We must understand three points:

First, why did G‑d have to save Noah by means of an ark?

Next, why [did He command Noah to bring] seven each of the ritually pure animals and of the ritually impure only two each?

And finally, who exactly were the Generation of the Flood and the generation of the dispersion?

The end of the portion describes the events of the Tower of Babel, the aftermath of which was the dispersion of mankind.

Adam, before he sinned, was not physical…

[To answer these questions,] know that Adam, before he sinned, was not physical. His was clothed in light, and he encompassed all [the spiritual] worlds. His head was in Atzilut; his [torso, corresponding to the] middle triad [of sefirot, chesed-gevura-tiferet] was in Beriya; his [lower extremities, corresponding to the] final triad [of sefirot, netzach-hod-yesod] was in Yetzira; and the crown [of his sexual organ] was in Asiya.

As we have explained previously, the sefirot in the world of Tikun are positioned as triads. The upper triad is chochma-bina-daat, the intellect, corresponding to the three lobes of the brain. The middle triad, chesed-gevura-tiferet, corresponds to the right and left arms and torso, respectively. The lower triad, netzach-hod-yesod, corresponds to the right and left legs and sexual organ, respectively. The final sefira, malchut, corresponds to the glans of the male sexual organ (or in other contexts, to the female).

All souls were included in his. When he sinned, his stature was diminished and he became physical, and this caused a blemish in all the souls [he encompassed].

"His stature was diminished" obviously does not mean that he physically shrank, and that being spiritual is just being giant. Rather, this is simply the way the Kabbalists describe Adam's transformation from a totally spiritual to partly physical being.

However, he [originally] encompassed souls of Arich Anpin, and when he sinned, these souls ascended on high.

The four worlds correspond to the four lower partzufim, while the higher partzufim correspond to the higher world, Adam Kadmon:

partzuf – sefira – world – body

Arich Anpin – keter - Adam Kadmon – skull

Abba – chochma – Atzilut - right lobe of brain

Imma – bina – Beriya - left lobe of brain

Zeir Anpin - the middot - Yetzira - arms, torso, legs, sexual organ

Nukva d'Zeir Anpin – malchut – Asiya - glans or female

In addition to encompassing souls whose level of consciousness reflected the four principle worlds as detailed above, Adam's soul also encompassed souls whose consciousness was higher than that of the world of Atzilut proper. These souls were evidently too sublime to be affected by the sin, and when Adam's being was diminished and therefore no longer spiritual enough to encompass them, they simply flew away from him.

The rest of the souls were eventually rectified, however, as we will [now] explain, please G‑d.

These souls left [the diminished being of Adam] by way of seminal emissions, for [as we are taught, Adam] sired evil spirits. This happens when the drop of seminal emission impregnates a female demon. The soul [that has thus become entrapped in evil] must be reincarnated afterwards in order to be rectified.

We are taught in the Talmud (Eiruvin 18a, based on Gen. 5:3) that during the 130 years Adam separated from Eve (after the sin and until he fathered Seth), he suffered from seminal emissions. The Hebrew term for "seminal emission","keri", applies both to intentional and involuntary seminal emissions. Although voluntary emission is considered a more serious sin than involuntary emission, the individual is considered responsible for involuntary emission as well, since dreams are in most cases the way the mind sorts out the thoughts the individual entertained during his waking hours.

One's wife…arouses her husband to transmit his creative flow to her…

Any seminal emission implies a recipient of the vital seed. Normally, this is one's wife, who inspires or arouses her husband to transmit his creative flow to her, the result of this being holy spiritual offspring (in the form of increased holy energy in the world) and, ideally, physical offspring as well. However, evil can also entice or trick a man to transmit his creative flow to it, by deceiving him into thinking that some holy purpose (or some cheap imitation of the exhilaration and excitement of holiness, i.e., ephemeral excitement or fulfillment) will come of this. In this case, the recipient of his vital seed is a "female demon", whether that be an actual human being, a mental fantasy, or in the most general, philosophical sense, any false ideal or substitute for holiness that man may fall prey to dedicating his energies to.

The result of this unholy union is that, temporarily, vital energy has been added to the side of unholiness, and unholy energy has been propagated. The mechanism G‑d set up to rectify this is for this "soul" to transmigrate into an incarnation in which it feels the horror of being unfulfilled, as we have explained previously.

Although the Midrash describes a situation that persisted for 130 years and the Arizal describes a process that occurred simultaneously with the sin, this is simply because spiritual processes that occur outside the context of time require time when manifested in the physical plane.

In addition, [Adam] blemished souls that were associated with his own, personal soul-root. These were [intended to be] rectified in the souls of Cain and Abel, Abel rectifying the aspect of chochma and Cain the aspect of bina.

All [the souls that originate in the left side,] from bina downward, became "shells" [i.e., evil]. In contrast, even the gevura-aspects [of the right side, that] which descends from chochma, did not become "shells", although they did become their life-force.

Bina is the aspect of the intellect that exercises judgment and evaluates the insight of chochma. Therefore, it is essentially a judgmental force, and as such can serve as the source for unholy judgment and vengeance.

Therefore, when Cain attempted to rectify [reality by offering his sacrifice], he made it worse instead.

Cain exercised the attribute of bina incorrectly, and misjudged how G‑d would react to his offering. Adam ate the fruit prematurely, assuming incorrectly that G‑d wanted him to "take the initiative" and forcefully bring about the perfection of the world on his own, before the appointed time (it would have been permitted to him on Shabbat). Cain, understanding this, felt that to rectify this miscalculation, it was necessary to disavow the human side of the equation altogether and live life submersed in the experience of G‑d's absolute unity, leaving no room for self-awareness or initiative from man's side. This was reflected in his offering, flax, which grows as a single seed on a stalk. Of course, since this perspective precludes man's purpose on earth, to make the lower realms a home for G‑d, it was rejected.

Abel also made things worse. This is the implication of the verse, "And Abel brought, he also…," Gen. 4:4) meaning that he sinned as well.

The fact that Abel's offering is compared to Cain's implies that it, too, was defective in some way. Also, the fact that Abel was murdered means that he must have been deserving of death in some way (although this in no was exonerates Cain, of course). Elsewhere, the Arizal states that Abel's sin was that he "gazed" at the Divine presence.

[The situation remained unrectified] until Moses came and rectified the hei of [Abel's name in Hebrew,] Hevel and the shin of [Seth's name in Hebrew,] Shet.

Moses in Hebrew is Moshe, spelled mem-shin-hei. He is thus seen as the rectification of Seth and Abel. In other words, the ultimate tool for rectifying the sin of Adam is the Torah (which was given through Moses).

Some of the souls that went out [of Adam] were rectified [by being reincarnated] in converts.

When an individual converts to Judaism…he draws down into his being a Jewish soul that he did not possess previously…

When an individual converts to Judaism (in accordance with Jewish law), he draws down into his being a Jewish soul that he did not possess previously. Existentially, then, his conversion process represents the transformation of the mundane into the holy.

To explain further: The [original] garment of Adam was the light that corresponds to the [aspect of the soul known as] Nefesh. This [light] was like the fourth "shell," which is attached to holiness and is called Noga ["glow"], half of which is from holiness and half of which is from evil. When evil prevails [over it], it becomes wholly evil; when holiness [prevails], the opposite happens.

There are four levels of non-holiness: three levels of absolute evil and one level of neutrality. These are referred to in the vision of Ezekiel (1:4) as "a stormy wind," "a huge cloud," "a flashing fire," and "a glow." The three levels of evil are envisioned as three "shells" surrounding the edible fruit, or holiness. In between the shells and the fruit is a fourth, softer "shell" or "peel" (e.g., the rind of an orange) that in some cases is edible. This signifies the level of neutrality, which can be subsumed into either evil or holiness, depending on how it is used. Into this category of reality fall all those things that are neither expressly forbidden nor are used for an particular mitzvah.

There are five levels of the soul, signifying five levels of holiness. These stand in opposition to the four levels of non-holiness as follows:

level of the soul - opposite level of non-holiness

Yechida - no evil

Chaya - third level of evil

Neshama - second level of evil

Ruach - first level of evil

Nefesh - neutrality (Noga)

There is no level of evil corresponding to the Yechida, since Yechida is the soul's total identification with divinity, and there obviously can be no type of evil that expresses the same quality in the opposite direction, since there is no "evil deity" to compromise G‑d's absolute oneness.

The soul of Onkelos, the convert, was from this aspect [of reality].

Onkelos was a Roman who converted to Judaism and is the author of the standard Aramaic translation of the Torah. We have discussed the significance of Aramaic in this context previously.

This is the mystical significance of [the custom of reading the Torah] "twice as in Scripture and once in translation."

The Talmud enjoins us to review the weekly portion of the Torah each week by reading it aloud, each verse twice in the original Hebrew followed by once in the translation of Onkelos. (Berachot 8b) By reading the Hebrew together with the Aramaic, we are subsuming the mundane, Noga-shell into holiness.

The Noga-principle encloses the light of holiness after midnight.

As we said, the realm of the "fruit" or kernel of holiness is envisioned as existing within the four shells. In this depiction, we may consider the Noga-shell as protecting the holiness from the evil shells. (This is true, of course, to the extent that the individual or society has endeavored to consecrate the Noga-shell by subsuming their mundane activities into the realm of holiness. Otherwise, the Noga-shell comes under the rule of evil and there is no protective layer separating evil from holiness.)

Marital relations are preferably conducted at this time of the night…

Since this protection is said here to be operative specifically after midnight, we are taught that marital relations are preferably conducted at this time of the night. Thus the couple is assured that their union will be unhampered by the attacks of evil thoughts or confusion.

The sin of Adam was that he caused this [protective] covering to be opened up, and at that opening the forces of evil benefited from the light of holiness.

Adam's sin "punctured" the Noga-shell, allowing the forces of evil to invade (like a worm enters a fruit) and "suck" from holiness.

This is the mystical significance of the statement of our sages that Enoch was a cobbler, meaning that he closed that which Adam opened up, and was able to cover the light of Beriya. (Midrash Talpiot, s.v. Chanoch)

Enoch was the sixth generation from Adam, and was something of a saint or ascetic who renounced the evil ways of his rapidly degenerating society (Gen. 5). In the Midrash it is stated that the phrase describing the end of his life on earth "and he was no more, for G‑d took him", implies that G‑d made him into an angel (specifically, the angel Metatron). Metatron occupies a pivotal position in the hierarchy of angels, and serves, among other things, to protect the realms of holiness from the forces of evil. Thus Enoch was able to protect the light of the world of Beriya from exposure to evil, but not any lower level.

But about the world of Yetzira it says: "And Abimelech looked in through the window." (Gen. 27:8) When he was staying in the land of the Philistines, Isaac told the ruler, Abimelech, that Rebecca was his sister, for he feared that if he told him the truth that Rebecca was his wife, Abimelech would kill him in order to take her. But, we are told, Abimelech looked in to their tent through the window and saw them engaging in marital intercourse, and thus discovered that they were husband and wife.

Abimelech signifies the evil of the Philistines; the fact that he was able to observe the union between Isaac and Rebecca means that their level of intercourse was in some way exposed or vulnerable to intrusion by evil.

Isaac engaged in marital relations on the level of Asiya, where there is not intended to be any such intercourse, for that is the level of lesbianism. This is why the snake envied them, for he is on the level of Asiya.

Marital relations are intended to be a sublime intertwining of the physical and spiritual aspects of the couple's union…

Isaac here was evidently engaging in marital relations in a relatively exclusively physical way, after the manner of the Philistines, known for their excessive sensual indulgence. (This is why the king of the Philistines was able to intrude on their union; he was there anyway, so to speak.) Obviously, marital relations are intended to be a sublime intertwining of the physical and spiritual aspects of the couple's union, not a mere exercise in physical gratification. When there is no sublime, spiritual union between male and female, with all this implies in terms of the union of the male and female principles in Creation, the sexual act is reduced to the pursuit of raw sensual pleasure. In this way, it is like homosexuality, where the sensual pleasure is paramount and considered the justification for the intercourse and the indication of its "rightness". The spiritual union between the partners (if there is any) is subordinate to the physical, instead of the reverse situation, as is the case in proper marital relations.

Once intercourse occurs on this level, the snake, like Abimelech (who was simply playing the role of the snake further along in history) can rightfully argue that he is as fit a consort for Eve as Adam.

Now, Adam is considered to have committed [in the sin of the Tree of Knowledge] three cardinal sins: idolatry, sexual aberration, and murder. (Zohar 1:27b)

Murder: referring to the souls that left him as seminal emissions.

The sages compare intentional seminal emission to murder, since the individual is squandering his potential to bring life into the world.

chanoch adds: This is not my understanding. The problem comes from each sperm has a soul attached to it. Wasting sperm sends these souls to the negative system.

Idolatry: for he caused the sparks of holiness to cling to the forces of evil.

Giving power to the forces of evil is serving them, which is idolatry.

Those souls who left him as seminal emissions returned as the generation of the flood, and made things even worse.

G‑d sought to wipe out the generation of the flood "for all flesh had corrupted its way on earth", meaning that they engaged in all kinds of sexual aberrations.

Therefore the floodwaters were required, in order to wipe out all those [corrupted] bodies. The earth, also, was washed away to a depth of three handbreadths. This refers to the sefira of malchut, which is called "the earth". The three "handbreadths" of malchut in which intercourse is not to take place were "wiped out".

Malchut, the lowest sefira, is manifest as the ground or earth, while Zeir Anpin is manifest as the "heavens". Just as the heavens rain upon the earth, enabling it to grow fruit, Zeir Anpin (the male) fertilizes Nukva (the female).

The three "handbreadths" are presumably the upper three sub-sefirot of malchut; as was stated above, intercourse is not to supposed to take place only on the level of mere Asiya. These three handbreadths therefore had to be reconstituted after the flood.

Noah was [a manifestation of the sefira of] yesod, and [his three sons,] Shem, Ham, and Japheth corresponded to chochma, bina, and daat respectively. They issued by way of yesod and were thus rectified because they originated in a high level; the light therefore had to be concealed.

Noah was said to be "a righteous man, perfect in his generation….Gen. 6:9) The appellation "righteous" (tzadik) is associated specifically with the sefira of yesod and indicates sexual purity. In contrast to the rest of his depraved and degenerate generation, Noah was holy and guarded his sexuality properly. He was therefore able to elicit proper, rectified consciousness (chochma-bina-daat, or intellect), as opposed to Adam and his sons, each of whom erred in some way regarding proper G‑d-consciousness.

As we said above, holiness has to be guarded and protected from the attacks of evil; therefore, until the world was purified, Noah and his sons had to be concealed inside the ark.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah

Lot to Fight About

The ancient wars were designed to exact spiritual strength from the forces of holiness.

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

In this parasha, we read how an alliance of five kings rebelled against an alliance of four kings, which then waged war against the alliance of five kings. During this process, they abducted Abraham's nephew, Lot, and Abraham pursued and routed the first alliance in order rescue Lot. (Gen. 14)

As is known, the kings that ruled in the land of Edom and died (Gen. 36:31-39) were manifestations of Arich Anpin, Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva. (Etz Chaim 8:4-5, 9:1-2, 5, 17:3)

These are the partzufim of Atzilut, while the kings that died allude to the seven sefirot that collapsed in the world of Tohu, the version of Atzilut that precedes its rectified version, Tikun. Also, there were seven kings that died, but only six partzufim are enumerated here.

They were all the feminine aspect [of these partzufim], which is known as the malchut [of each partzuf]. That is why they are alluded to by the "kings", being named after it.

Since the kings that died were the malchut of these partzufim, they are called "kings", since malchut means "kingship".

It is known that malchut is expressed by the name Havayah spelled out such that its numerical value is 52, i.e. with the letter hei.

Yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

This name is known as "Ban", spelled beit nun, the number 52.

The four spellings out of the name Havayah (72, 63, 45, and 52) are aligned with the four letters of the name Havayah and the sefirot/partzufim they signify.

Thus, even though there are seven kings that died, they are really nine, corresponding to the nine letters of Ban. (ibid. 8:3)

The seven kings expressed or embodied the malchut's of these partzufim in Tohu and, at the same time, the nine letters of the name Ban.

chanoch adds: Ban is selled Beit Alef Nun Sofit or Beit Nun Sofit. Both spellings have 9 letters when spelled out.

Only when the vessels of Tohu break…do they exist as…pockets of fallen consciousness possessing no holiness….

As is known, the dross and shells [i.e. evil] were separated out of these [fallen] kings. Therefore, there are nine other kings corresponding to them, which are composed totally of the shells and dross of the nine aforementioned holy kings.

The nine kings (i.e. the nine malchuts of Tohu) are extremely volatile, as is everything in that world because the amount of light is out of proportion with the capacity of the vessels to hold it. But everything in Tohu is still in the realm of holiness. Only when the vessels of Tohu break and their "shards" descend into the lower worlds do they exist as almost lifeless "shells" - pockets of fallen consciousness possessing no holiness other than a tiny spark of Tohu-light embedded deep with each one to keep it in existence. Other than that deep kernel of holiness, the whole essence of the fallen "shell" is evil, i.e. selfhood and antithesis to divinity. (This is what led to the Shattering of the Vessels in the first place.)

These are the kings [mentioned in this episode of the parasha], Amrafel and his allies plus the king of Sodom and his allies. This is why they are divided into two groups: the four kings of Amrafel's alliance are the dross of the four root-letters of the aforementioned name Havayah, while the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, etc. are the dross of the five letters used to spell out this name Havayah, i.e. Ban, spelled out with the letter hei. This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "…four kings against the five".

The four letters of the name Havayah are thus depicted as waging war against the letters used to spell them out.

chanoch adds: The spelled out Name is יוד הה וו הה = 4 revealed letters and 5 concealed letters. Revealed letters have a gematria of 26. The concealed letters gematria is also 26. 26 + 26 = 52 which = the level of Malchut or manifestation.

Abraham personified the light of the states of chesed in Zeir Anpin….

The reason for this war and why it was waged specifically at this point in history will be understood via our sages' statement that their intention was actually to capture Abraham himself (Zohar I:86b; Bereishit Rabba 42). By capturing his nephew, Lot, Abraham would come to his rescue, and they would then capture him, too. The mystical significance of this is based on what we have explained in Shaar Ruach Hakodesh regarding the mystical significance of Lot and Abraham.

In short: Abraham personified the light of the states of chesed in Zeir Anpin, which are represented by the name Havayah spelled out with the letter alef, and whose numerical value is 45.

Yud-vav-dalet hei-alef vav-alef-vav hei-alef = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 1) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 1) = 45.

In order to exist, every form of evil must 'suck' from some form of good….

Lot is positioned opposite the back of Zeir Anpin, being the evil that sucks from [Zeir Anpin's] back. The numerical value of Lot is thus also 45.

"Lot" is spelled: Lamed-vav-tet = 30 + 6 + 9 = 45.

In order to exist, every form of evil must "suck" (i.e. derive its sustenance) from some form of good, of which it is a fallen, corrupt version.

In Aramaic, "Lot means" "cursed", referring to this manifestation of evil.

Aramaic, being closely related to Hebrew, is an intermediary between the Holy Language and the other languages of the world. It thus sometimes expresses a fallen version of the allied word in Hebrew, or is seen to "reveal" the meaning of the Hebrew (in that Aramaic is used for the Sages' vernacular translations of the Bible). Here, it seems to be understood in both senses.

Lot was therefore Abraham's close relative, earning his livelihood from him, always traveling with him, as it is written, "And Lot went with him". (Gen. 12:4).

This was when G‑d told Abraham to leave Haran and travel to the Land of Israel.

Lot signifies…the evil inclination within people….

As is explained in the Zohar, Lot signifies evil and the evil inclination within people. (I:79a, 80b)

When Abraham was outside the Land of Israel, there was no coupling between Zeir Anpin and Nukva, as we have explained before. Therefore, the evil "shell" clung to the holiness and sucked from it, for Zeir Anpin was then in a state of constricted consciousness, signified by the name Elokim.

The Land of Israel is an appellate for malchut, as we have seen previously, so if Abraham personified Zeir Anpin, it means that there was no union between Zeir Anpin and Nukva until Abraham entered the Land. The reason why there is no union between Zeir Anpin and Nukva is because they are not ready, i.e. mature enough, for it yet. Abraham - Zeir Anpin - still had a "diaspora"-consciousness, an incomplete mentality vis-à-vis divinity. This consciousness is expressed by the name Elokim, which signifies divinity as it is vested and hidden in the forces of nature (the word for "the nature", "hateva", having the same numerical value as the name Elokim, 86).

In the absence of this union, Zeir Anpin is exposed to false union with the powers of evil.

The kings and the evil [they personified] were thus sucking their plenty [from Abraham/Zeir Anpin], and there was no war between them.

Abraham went to the Land of Israel…to arouse the supernal union between Zeir Anpin and Nukva….

But when Abraham went to the Land of Israel - which was in order to arouse the supernal union between Zeir Anpin and Nukva, the latter manifest as the land, as we have said - expanded consciousness entered [Zeir Anpin], and Lot, i.e. this evil, separated from him, as it is written, "Separate now from upon me". (Gen. 13:9).

This was after Abraham returned from a temporary sojourn in Egypt; he and Lot possessed too many herds and flocks to stay together.

It does not say, "from me" [in Hebrew, "mi-meni"] but "from upon me" ["mei-alai"], because [Lot] was literally clinging to the back of Zeir Anpin, as mentioned. It was thus as if a heavy burden was on [Abraham's] back.

The unusual choice of words thus alludes to the upper reality.

It is [therefore] then written, "And they separated, each one from upon the other" (ibid. 13:11) rather than "from each other".

At this point, the forces of evil and the aforementioned kings lost their [material] bounty. This is why they made war with each other, as we will describe.

Since material bounty is derived from spiritual beneficence, when the latter was cut off, there was a lack of the former, and this occasioned dispute, jealousy, etc.

To explain: Know that in Abraham's time, these nine kings began to be rectified, that is, to metamorphose into partzufim with proper vessels to clothe their lights, as we have explained in our exposition on the rectification of these kings. (Etz Chaim 11:7, 19:1)

Brilliant, blinding inspiration…only fulfills its purpose when it is contextualized within reality….

The rectification of the world of Tohu consists of constructing vessels for the sefirot's lights. There is an advantage to brilliant, blinding inspiration, but it only fulfills its purpose when it is contextualized within reality, where it can serve to change things and make the world a better place. True, some of the original brilliance and sense of infinity is lost, for by being expressed through specific vessels, the light is ipso facto deprived of the potential to express itself through other vessels, in other ways. But that is the price paid for maturity and fulfillment.

But, at this stage, they were not all rectified yet; only the four root-kings, who manifested the four root-letters of the name Ban. But the five kings that manifested the five letters used to spell out this name were not rectified yet.

When they all received [material] abundance, they were at peace. But when it became scarce, the five kings wanted to overpower and ascend above the level of the four kings in order to get closer to holiness and procure sustenance from there [directly]. Even though [the five] were derived from [the four], they rebelled against them; this was because the four kings, who were somewhat rectified - such that their vessels clothed their lights - could not ascend higher than their intrinsic level, whereas the five kings who were as yet unrectified were unrestricted by their "clothes" and were therefore able to ascend above the level of the others.

The vessels "hold on" to the lights they clothe, just as expressing an idea "solidifies" it and concretizes it, depriving it of being expressed in other ways.

Therefore the five kings, even though they were branches [of the four], rebelled and overcame the four root-kings.

But in the end, since [the four] were the roots, they overcame [the five] and subjugated them under their rule.

Now, since the whole dispute was over the lack of abundance for all of them, they therefore "took Lot and all his possessions" (Gen. 14:12) because he was the closest person to Abraham, who personified Zeir Anpin, as mentioned. By capturing [Lot], [they felt that Lot] would take his sustenance from Abraham and they would in turn take theirs from [Lot]. This is what the Sages meant when they said that the [four] kings wanted to capture Abraham, too. Understand this well.

In this context, the four kings did not want to actually capture Abraham; they just wanted a way to siphon off divine beneficence from him, a way to "plug into" him. This they saw in Lot.

Psychologically, this episode thus presumably depicts the conflict between the rectified and unrectified aspects of a person's animal nature. When we are young and our consciousness is devoted primarily to constructing our own sense of self, there is no conflict between these two; in fact, this is because our animal consciousness has either not yet begun to be rectified (i.e. educated for morality and altruism) or is only in the very beginning stages of this process.

But as we approach maturity and develop an awareness of the fact that there is a G‑d, and that G‑d has charged us with rectifying the world, i.e. performing His commandments and sanctifying mundane life so that His beneficence can flow properly into the world, our animal nature begins to mature as well, realizing it cannot always get what it wants and do what it wants to do. At this point, the unrectified aspects of the animal soul begin to rebel, and the person is plunged into the conflict of adolescence, when his selfish nature goes to war against his rising adult consciousness and tries to bypass it and assert itself. Since it is unfettered by the constraints of adulthood, it initially appears to win, dazzling the more reasoned adult with its youthful energy and power, flying above and appearing to be able to express more holy vitality than the adult nature. But because the adult nature is more careful, more logical, more patient, etc., it eventually wins, and subdues the unrectified aspect of the animal nature.

But animal nature is still animal nature, and even its rectified aspect - especially now that it has absorbed the unrectified aspect within it - wants what it considers is its due. It therefore enlists the Evil Inclination to make sure that the Divine Soul does not neglect it. In the end, the Divine Soul recaptures the Evil Inclination and uses it for its own purposes, rather than letting it serve the Animal Soul.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim and Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Lech Lecha.