Kabbalah explains the mystical reasons why a Jewish king is permitted 18 wives.
[The following is the continuation of the previous installment on this parashah, the discussion of the maximum number of wives, 18, that a king may have.]
It follows that there is a difference between the three letters of the word "tzelem":
The letter tzadik of "tzelem", which indicates the inner mentalities, possesses aspects of [the partzufs of] Leah and Rachel. For the netzach-hod-yesod of Imma become invested in the chochma-bina-daat of Zeir Anpin. Thus, malchut of Imma gives forth its radiance opposite the back of daat [of Zeir Anpin] and becomes Leah.
Yesod of Imma [which includes the lights of netzach and hod of Imma] reaches until the chest [of Zeir Anpin], where it concludes, and its lights are revealed there and shine from there downward. Then, opposite the chest [of Zeir Anpin] and downward, where revealed light shines, Rachel issues from the back of Zeir Anpin.
Mature mentality divides into two stages….
Now, Rachel is the tenth sefira of the world of Atzilut in general and is termed "malchut of the world of Atzilut" overall. In contrast, Leah is only the malchut of Imma of Atzilut.
From the lamed of "tzelem", which indicates the secondary enveloping [mentalities], issues Leah, for it includes also malchut of Imma, as mentioned, from which [Leah] is made. But Rachel does not issue from there, for the reasons mentioned [which we will review now].
Firstly, because Rachel does not issue from malchut of Imma; rather, it is a sefira on its own, the tenth of Atzilut, and issues only below, in its own place, opposite the back of the chest of Zeir Anpin.
Secondly, the tzadik of "tzelem" is vested within Zeir Anpin, and part of its light is covered until the chest [of Zeir Anpin], from where Leah issues. [The other part is] the revealed light [that exists] from the chest [of Zeir Anpin] downward, from where Rachel issues. But the lamed of "tzelem" is not vested within Zeir Anpin and is not manifest as covered and exposed light.
From the mem of "tzelem", which indicates the [even] higher enveloping [mentalities], which in turn are mental lights without vessels, neither Leah nor Rachel issue, for the above reasons.
We have thus explained the overall [phenomenon of the] tzelem of Abba and Imma.
We will now explain something else: It is known that there exist [in Zeir Anpin] immature mentalities and [their] tzelem, which are operative when Zeir Anpin nurses from Abba and Imma, and there exist mentalities and [their] tzelem when Zeir Anpin [receives] mature intellect from Abba and Imma.
These two states are divided into three:
The first is the immature mentality of nursing. These [mentalities] are indicated by Names Elo-him. The second is when the six extremities [the emotional sub-sefirot] of mature mentality enter [Zeir Anpin]. The third is when the three upper [sub-sefirot, those of the mentality of Abba and Imma] of mature mentality also enter [Zeir Anpin].
Mature mentality divides into two stages because, as is known, when the three upper [sub-sefirot] of mature mentality enter, they push out the immature mentality. [The latter] descend first to the throat of Zeir Anpin, and then further down, to the yesod [of Zeir Anpin], as is explained in its context, and will be explained further on. But when the six extremities of mature mentality enter by themselves, the immature mentality is not expelled below; rather, it remains with them.
Their coexistence and the collision of their mutual lights produces new states….
It follows that there are two states because when the six extremities of mature mentality are conjoined with the immature mentality, their coexistence and the collision of their mutual lights produces new states that are different both than what exists when the immature mentality functions by itself and what exists when mature mentality functions by itself.
According to what we have said, it follows that when immature mentality functions on its own, only four radiances issue, all termed "Leah". Similarly when mature mentality functions on its own, four other radiances issue, also termed "Leah". But during the intermediary stage, when the immature mentality functions together with the six extremities of mature mentality, there are ten lights termed "Leah":
chanoch adds: While these are called Lights they are actually Vessels.
The four radiances of immature mentality, explained above:
1. Malchut of Abba, remaining in its place, clinging to yesod of Abba,
2. Malchut of Imma, in its place, with the yesod of Abba present within it,
the radiance of Malchut of Abba, which issued from the place of Malchut of Imma and remains nearby, and
the radiance of Malchut of Imma, which issued outward behind the daat of Zeir Anpin - this being known as the neck-knot of the head tefillin.
Now that there are additional lights - the immature mentalities together with the six extremities of mature mentality - additional power is lent to Malchut of Abba, enabling it to emanate a third radiance out of Zeir Anpin, next to the external Leah of Imma.
Thus, there are five varieties of Leah on the level of immature mentality - three from Malchut of Abba and two from Malchut of Imma.
Similarly, there are five additional varieties of Leah derived from the six extremities of mature mentality [that coexist at this stage with the immature mentality], exactly along the lines of the five detailed above [with regard to the immature mentality].
The reason why Malchut of Abba emanates three radiances and Malchut of Imma only two is because [the latter] does not possess a third place where its radiance could collide and produce a third radiance. For other than Zeir Anpin, there is no other place [where this could occur]. In contrast, Malchut of Abba had three places where its radiance can spread. It therefore produces three radiances.
Malchut of Abba can "collide" both with its own level, with Imma, and with Zeir Anpin. Malchut of Imma can "collide" only with its own level and with Zeir Anpin.
The king is allowed to have up to 18 wives, for their analog exists above in the spiritual realm….
We have already explained why we count again all four radiances from the immature mentality and all four from the mature mentality, while it would appear that we should count only the two radiances added at this point - one from the mature mentality and one from the immature mentality. The reason is that now that there are several mixed in it, the radiances that issue now are certainly not similar to the radiances that issue during pure immaturity or pure maturity. The four radiances of the period of admixture are brighter and of a higher order than the four radiances that issued during pure immaturity and inferior to the four radiances that issue during pure maturity.
We have thus expounded [the existence of] 18 types of Leah, which issue above during the three periods [of mental maturity of Zeir Anpin] mentioned. And all of them issue from the sefirot of malchut of Abba and Imma.
We can now understand why the king is allowed to have [up to] 18 wives: for their analog exists above [in the spiritual realm]. But he is forbidden to have more than 18, for there is no spiritual precedent for this.
If you ask: if this is so, why is he only allowed to have 18 wives, rather than required to have this many? This answer is: these 18 [Leah’s] do not exist together at any one time, but they rather exist in three [separate] times. Furthermore, each of the 18 types [of Leah] is separate from the others, and they do not exist in the same realm. [The king] is therefore not required to have [wives corresponding to] all of them [at once].
We can also now understand why specifically the king is obligated to observe this commandment, and not everyone else. The reason is because all these types [of Leah] are aspects of Malchut, as we have pointed out, they are thus suited only for the king, and not for ordinary people at all.
The mental state between immaturity and maturity apparently alludes to adolescence...
In our task of spiritualizing the world, of making the world a home for G‑d, we must in certain contexts assume the leadership ("king") role, directing the affairs of our private "kingdom" so that whatever happens to be in our domain is orchestrated so as to serve this purpose. It would seem from the above discussion that in order to be a proper "king", we must be able to be marry 18 "wives", meaning that we must be able to relate to the 18 archetypal types of feminine mentality. As we have said repeatedly, feminine mentality is the drive to actualize Divinity in the real world. These 18 types of feminine mentality cover the full span of this drive, from immature, through adolescent, to mature. Each type of mentality has its context wherein it is relevant, and the optimal king must know when to "wed", i.e. when to manifest his kingship, through each.
To be continued…
Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaMitzvot; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."
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