Dressed for Success

The garments of the High Priest were conduits for holy unifications.

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

This week's Torah portion discusses the special garments the priests had to wear while performing their service in the Tabernacle, and later in the holy Temple. Every priest had to wear four basic garments: pants (in Hebrew, "michnasayim"), a tunic ("kutonet"), a sash ("avnet"), and a turban-like headgear ("migba'at"). In addition, the High Priest had to wear four additional garments: a robe ("me'il"), a half-skirt ("ephod"), a breastplate ("choshen"), and a head-band ("tzitz"). The headgear of the High Priest is more elaborate than that of a regular priest (and is called "mitznefet" in place of "migba'at").

The Zohar (Zohar II 230b) describes the spiritual powers of the ephod and the choshen as follows: "The ephod corresponds to [the ability to perceive spirituality through] a clouded glass, while the choshen corresponds to [the ability to perceive spirituality through] a clear glass. The former is the back; the latter is the front."

The ephod is, as we said, a sort of half-skirt, tied around the waist, which covers the back part of the body from the waist down. Two suspender-like straps come out of the upper edge of the back part of the ephod and extend over the crest of the shoulders. Onto these straps are fastened two chains, from which the choshen hangs. The choshen is a folded piece of fabric which rests over the chest, onto which are fixed twelve precious stones.

chanoch adds: From discussions of prophecy from some Tzadikim we learn the ephod connects to the world of Yetzirah while the Choshen connects to the world of Briah

The choshen symbolizes the ability to perceive spirituality…directly…

Thus, although parts of it are visible from the front, the ephod mainly covers the back of the body, while the choshen is entirely on the front of the body. "Back" and "front" in the imagery of Kabbala denote direct and indirect experience. Thus, the ephod symbolizes the ability to perceive spirituality through "a clouded glass", which may mean either a translucent but not transparent pane of glass or a mirror. In either case, what is implied is an indirect experience. In contrast, the choshen symbolizes the ability to perceive spirituality through "a clear glass", i.e. directly.

To explain: Zeir Anpin and its Nukva are [initially] back to back. Zeir Anpin corresponds to the choshen, and the ephod corresponds to its Nukva.

G‑d emanated the sefirot initially as one-dimensional points. This means that each sefira was a pure manifestation of one of G‑d's attributes. Although in this form each sefira was extremely intense, this scheme was incomplete, for in order for any two entities to interrelate and interact, each must possess something of the other. Their common ground for communication and cross-fertilization is the presence of each one in the other. For example, in order for two people to communicate, each has to have a "place" in his mind where he can, at least to some extent, picture what it is to be the other person. Through this mini-presence of the other person within himself, he can understand what the other person is saying and couch what he wants to say to him in terms that he will be able to understand. This was lacking in the original scheme of the sefirot. Since there was no interaction, this version of Creation, or world, was called Tohu ("chaos"), and eventually collapsed.

The rectified world that was created in order to fix this problem was called Tikun…

The rectified world that was created in order to fix this problem was called Tikun ("rectification"). Tohu and Tikun are the immature and mature versions of the first of the four created worlds, Atzilut. Generally, when reference is made to the world of Atzilut, the mature version (Tikun) is meant.

In the world of Atzilut, the sefirot are no longer one-dimensional points, but have metamorphosed into arrays (partzufim, sing. partzuf) of ten sub-sefirot. This occurs according to the following pattern:

sefira in Tohu - partzuf in Tikun

keter - Atik Yomin ("the Ancient of Days")

Keter Part Two - Arich Anpin ("the Long Face")

chochma - Abba ("father")

bina - Imma ("mother")

chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod - Zeir Anpin ("the Small Face")

malchut - Nukva ("the female") of Zeir Anpin

Note that keter splits into two partzufim, while the aggregate of the emotional attributes (from chesed to yesod) form one. Each partzuf comprises ten sub-sefirot, as we said, so we may speak of chesed of Abba, chochma of Zeir Anpin, and so on. Once each sefira has become a partzuf, the sefirot may interact and interrelate to each other. This process of interaction is called "coupling" (or "zivug").

chanoch adds: In my opinion, the term sub sefirot is misleading. Even the description chesed of Abba of Chesed does not imply that of the two cheseds one is inferior or less than as the word sub sefirot does imply. Again the description “interaction” does not express the full meaning of the Hebrew word zivug. Zivug is expressing the intimacy of sexual relations.

Now, when any two people communicate (or a "couple", either in the physical or abstract sense), there can be many levels of intensity in their interaction. One of the parties may be distracted or disinterested; this is obviously a less than ideal level of communication. The ignored party will feel as if the other person has "turned his back" to him, regardless of whether he his physically facing him or not.

Thus, in the imagery of Kabbala, when two partzufim couple, they are said to be either "face to face", "face to back", "back to face", or "back to back". The initial state is that of being back to back, since the orientation of youth is self-centeredness; other people are perceived mainly as objects through which one reaches his own, selfish ends. Maturity is the broadening of perspective that encompasses the other's perspective; this is the state of being face to face.

The numerical value of "ephod" is identical to that of the two divine names Havayah Ado-nai. The coupling of these two names is the coupling between Zeir Anpin and the Nukva.

Every divine name is associated with a sefira (or partzuf), since a name of G‑d is simply a term we use to refer to Him acting in a certain way. The name Havayah is primarily associated with the sefira of tiferet, which is the pivotal sefira of the partzuf of Zeir Anpin; the name Ado-nai (which means "L-rd") is associated with the sefira of malchut ("kingdom") or its manifestation as a partzuf, the Nukva of Zeir Anpin.

chanoch adds: Did you pick up on the idea that a Sefirah of Malchut can act as a partzuf if it becomes ten sefirot

Thus, the ephod itself carries in it an allusion to its consummate state, that of unification with the choshen.

The choshen corresponds to Zeir Anpin in its immature, judgmental state. This is why it is called "the choshen of judgment" (Ex. 28:15), for it is a manifestation of the totally judgmental state of immaturity.

The choshen is called "the choshen of judgment" because by means of the letters engraved on the precious stones affixed to it, answers were obtained to crucial questions facing the Jewish People. Allegorically, however, this term indicates that the choshen at this stage represents Zeir Anpin in its immature, self-oriented state. An immature person sees everything from only one perspective - his - and is thus apt to be highly judgmental of those he comes in contact with. We see this clearly with children, who, since they lack the perspective of experience, interpret things only with an eye to how they impinge on themselves and what they perceive to be their best interests. Clearly, when Zeir Anpin is in this state, it is not yet ready to couple with its Nukva face to face.

chanoch adds: Since the choshen and Ephod became lost with the destruction of the Temple we must consider the possibility that the children of Israel might have grown out of the immature state. If this is true when, as described in the scroll of Esther, the children of Israel observed the Achasverosh wearing the High Priest clothing they fell back to the immature state. This my opinion.

The choshen [in] this [state] is equivalent to the snake that tears open the womb of the doe when it gives birth (see Etz Chaim 34:2, klal 16), for this is also a manifestation of total judgment.

The imagery here is that of a young female deer giving birth for the first time. Since this is her first impregnation, the opening of her womb is still "virginal", i.e., narrow - too narrow, in fact, for the fawn to fit through. In her pain trying to give birth, the doe cries, and a snake, hearing the cry, bites the doe, tearing open her womb so the fawn can emerge. Although this benefits the doe, the snake is surely acting only out in its own [self] interest.

Any revelation may be likened to a birth, but this birth was a first birth…

The union of the choshen and the ephod at this immature stage is thus characterized by extreme self-interest, each party acting only on its own behalf and motivated to interact only by what it thinks it can get out of the other.

When the Jewish People went out of Egypt, they were spiritually immature, also. The seven-week period between the Exodus and the Revelation on Mt. Sinai was a maturation process (which we relive every year nowadays as the mitzvah of counting the Omer). Both the Splitting of the Sea, seven days after the Exodus, and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, seven weeks after the Exodus, were revelations of Divinity. But whereas the Jewish people were maturely prepared for the revelation at Mt. Sinai, the Splitting of the Sea occurred at the beginning of their spiritual education, when they were still "young". Any revelation may be likened to a birth, but this birth was a first birth, and is therefore similar to the first birth of the doe just described.

We are therefore taught that providing for mankind is as difficult for G‑d as the Splitting of the Sea (Bereishit Rabba 97:3, 20:22), for both are subject to G‑d's judgment, as mentioned in the Zohar. (Zohar II 170a)

Our sages state that making a living is compared to the splitting of the sea, as it is written, "Praise G‑d…who split the sea apart…who gives bread to all flesh.". (Psalms 136:13,25)

Now, it certainly is not difficult for G‑d to do anything, including splitting the sea and providing for man's needs. The "difficulty" in both cases arises from the fact that G‑d's attribute of judgment was (or is) arguing against it. We are taught that when the Jews were crossing the sea, the guardian angel of the Egyptians was complaining that the Jews were just as sinful as the Egyptians, and that there was no justification for allowing them to pass through while the Egyptians were to be drowned. It was only after special merit was found that the attribute of judgment was silenced. Similarly, G‑d provides for all Creation's needs every day, but the fact that man is sinful and thus does not deserve His care makes it "difficult" for Him to provide it. It is only thanks to the fact that G‑d's benevolence prevails over His judgment that man is provided for. From all this we see that immaturity - the state of being self-oriented and egocentric - arouses G‑d's attribute of judgment.

Numerically, this is expressed by the fact that the word for "snake" [in Hebrew, "nachash" = 358] is equal to the numerical value of the name Sha-dai [=314] plus the diminishing value (achoraim) of the name Eh-yeh [=44], which is also the numerical value of the word for "blood" [in Hebrew, "dam" = 44]. All of this indicates the state of immaturity.

The "diminishing value" of a word is derived by writing the word in full followed by the word with the last letter left off, followed by the word with the last two letters left off, and so on until only the first letter is left. All these letters are then added up. In our case, the name Eh-yeh is spelled alef-hei-yud-hei. If to this we add alef-hei-yud, alef-hei, and alef by itself, the total of the numerical values of these letters is 1 + 5 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 5 + 10 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 44.

The significance of the "diminishing value" of a word is that it signifies the concept conveyed by the word but in an immature, undeveloped state. Thus, the Hebrew term for this version of the word is its "achoraim", or "back". As we mentioned above, in Kabbala, "back" signifies the immature state. The name Eh-yeh in Kabbala usually signifies the sefira of bina, the principle component of the intellect. The "diminished value" of Eh-yeh therefore signifies immature intellect, or the constricted consciousness characteristic of a child or person who has not matured. Every intellectual idea, if allowed to, will produce an emotional reaction…

The name Sha-dai is associated in Kabbala with the sefira of yesod, the sefira through which coupling takes place. Thus, the above numerical equivalence in which the name Sha-dai is added to the "diminished value" of the name Eh-yeh refers to a coupling conducted in a mode of immature consciousness, i.e., each party motivated by and seeking their own interests. The total is equal to the snake, who opportunely takes advantage of the immaturity of the doe, causing her to bleed, as we noted above.

To explain further: Aaron personified Zeir Anpin. Zeir Anpin manifests on its heart the lights of yesod of Imma, which are revealed on [Zeir Anpin's] chest.

Imma, as we said, is the partzuf of bina, which is, as we also said, the principle component of the intellect. Every intellectual idea, if allowed to, will produce an emotional reaction; in other words, Imma (the "mother") gives birth to Zeir Anpin (the amalgam of the emotional attributes). Not only that, but the growth, development and maturation of this emotional make-up is dependent on it being periodically refreshed and reconstituted by the original idea that gave rise to it. In other words, the development of Zeir Anpin is dependent on the flow of energy it receives from Imma.

This is what is meant by the imagery of the "lights" (i.e., "input" or "energy") of Imma issuing from its yesod (the sefira of transmission between one partzuf and another) and landing on the chest/heart of Zeir Anpin.

Due to the intensity of the light present there, on his heart, these lights pierce through [him], shining and projecting outward.

If the emotional response is sufficiently intense, it will not be satisfied in simply producing feelings in the person experiencing it, but will motivate him to spread the enthusiasm his enlightenment has granted him to the outside world as well.

Similarly, the headband signifies the [lights of] yesod of Imma that are revealed on the forehead [of Zeir Anpin], this being the location of all facets of [Zeir Anpin's] intellect. These lights, too, shine outward.

The emotional response to the intellect of Imma is not simply pure intellect, for we have noted that every partzuf comprises the full array of all ten sefirot. Thus, Zeir Anpin has its own intellect, that is, emotions possess their own intellectual underpinning, apart from the abstract intellectual idea that gave rise to them. This emotional intellect must also be "fed" and "renewed" by the original abstract intellect (Imma) in order to be properly energized. When this happens, they, too, desire to spread forth and illuminate the rest of the world with their inspiration.

Correspondingly, Aaron would wear the headband and the choshen, just as does the Supernal Man. These garments derive from the lights we have now described.

The "Supernal Man" is another appellation for Zeir Anpin.

Zeir Anpin…seeks to shine its revelations outward rather than just hoard them…

By wearing these garments, Zeir Anpin "matures". For maturation, it will be remembered, is the process of expanding one's consciousness to the extent that it can encompass more perspectives than one's own. This is possible only when one's emotions have been properly "fed" by the wisdom and understanding of intellect. The tzitz and the choshen signify this influx of consciousness ("light") from Imma - the intellect - into the emotions - Zeir Anpin. As it matures, Zeir Anpin develops concern not only for itself but for the outside world as well, and seeks to shine its revelations outward rather than just hoard them within itself.

The ephod begins opposite the loins on the back, and extends down to the feet. [As mentioned above,] the ephod thus signifies the Nukva, which is [initially] situated behind Zeir Anpin.

The Nukva of Zeir Anpin is the partzuf of malchut, or the power to express emotions. Generally, these powers are seen as the three "garments" of the soul: thought, speech, and action. Each of these is a descent from the intensity of emotional enthusiasm represented by Zeir Anpin, but on the other hand, they are necessary in order for the urge for expression and spreading of the divine consciousness into the world to occur. As was explained in the comments on parashat Mishpatim, the feminine side of Creation is the drive to conquer and rectify reality and make the world a dwelling place for G‑d. This is done by expressing the inspiration of Zeir Anpin through Nukva.

Thus, as Zeir Anpin matures, it seeks to couple with Nukva in a mature way, that will enable "her" to descend into the lower realms and give birth to new levels of divine consciousness there. However…

Scripture therefore teaches us: "let not the choshen slide off the ephod" (Ex. 28:28). For they must remain constantly joined above. Even when she [i.e., Nukva, the ephod] descends below afterwards, part of her remains above, as it is written, "Your word, O G‑d, forever stands in heaven." (Psalms 119:89)

Here we are taught that even when one is involved in expressing and transmitting the divine inspiration to the world, he must remain "anchored" above; part of him must always retain consciousness of the original, pristine inspiration. This way, he will maintain balance and not lose sight of his goals while involved in the exigencies of translating the inspiration to others. This is an all-too-common pitfall.

A common appellate for the sefira of malchut is "the word of G‑d", since, as we said above, malchut is the force of expression of the inspiration of Zeir Anpin. The verse, "Your word, O G‑d, forever stands in heaven", thus means mystically that some aspect of malchut remains always anchored above, even as it descends to earth to rectify and elevate it.

chanoch adds: It is important to note the above commentary paragraph since many times students of Kabbalah are taught the physical world is Malchut.

Therefore, the numerical value of "ephod" [spelled alef-pei-dalet] is 85, and the numerical value of the name Elokim [plus 1], which signifies Nukva. When ephod is spelled fully [i.e., with the vav: alef-pei-vav-dalet], its numerical value is 91, that of the combined names Havayah (= 26) and Ado-nai (= 65), indicating that [it must be united with the choshen] just as these two names must be united forever.

The name Elokim is often considered the feminine complement to the name Havayah. It is fairly common to complete a numerical equivalence by adding the number 1, signifying the totality of the letters of a given word considered as a whole entity (the word) and not just as the constituent elements (the letters).

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

Fashion Statements of the High Priest

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

The Arizal reveals secrets of the urim v'tumim worn by the High Priest.

In this week's Torah reading, G‑d commands Moses to make the eight garments of the High Priest. Two of these were the apron - ephod (see Ex. 28:6-12) and the breastplate - choshen (see ibid. 28:15-30). The breastplate was a doubled-over piece of fabric that rested on the chest of the High Priest, hanging by chains from the shoulder straps of the ephod and fastened by a sash to the waist section of the ephod. Inside the doubled fabric was inserted a parchment inscribed with G‑d's Name, called the "urim v'tumim" - "lights and perfections" (ibid. 28:30) The urim v'tumim served as a divine oracle that enabled the High Priest to respond to questions of national consequence.

The urim v'tumim were [a manifestation of] the 42-Name of G‑d and the 72-Name of G‑d.

The 42-Name is formed by taking the name Havayah, spelling it out, spelling out the spelling-out, and summing the number of letters generated. The name Havayah itself comprises 4 letters. Spelling it out uses 10 letters:

Yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-vav hei-yud.

Spelling out this spelling out uses 28 letters:


yud spelled out = yud vav dalet


vav spelled out = vav yud vav


dalet spelled out = dalet lamed tav


hei spelled out = hei yud

yud spelled out = yud vav dalet


vav spelled out = vav yud vav


yud spelled out = yud vav dalet


vav spelled out = vav yud vav


hei spelled out = hei yud


yud spelled out = yud vav dalet

4 letter Name

+ 10 letters in first spelling

+ 28 letters in second spelling

total = 42.

It is explained elsewhere in the writings of the Arizal (Etz Chaim 14:5) that in each partzuf, the name Havayah itself is manifest in the keter of that partzuf; the name Havayah spelled out (once) is manifest in the chochma of that partzuf; and the name Havayah spelled out as second time is manifest in the bina of that partzuf. In other words, the triad of keter-chochma-bina represent the unfolding of the initial insight (chochma) from its source (in keter) into its full intellectual manifestation (bina). Thus, the name Havayah thus manipulated to give a numerical value of 42 is associated with the "head", i.e. the intellect and pre-intellect.

The 42-Name is always associated with the head and the 72-Name with the torso….

The 72-Name is the name Havayah spelled out using the letter yud. According to Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, the 72-Name mentioned here is not the usual 72-Name formed by spelling out the name Havayah using the letter yud and then taking the numerical value, for then we would expect it to be contrasted by another one of the spellings-out of the name Havayah, i.e. the 63-Name, the 45-Name, or the 52-Name. But here, it is contrasted with the 42-Name. Therefore, he concludes that the 72-Name mentioned here is the Divine Name composed of the 72 three-letter Names formed by juxtaposing the three consecutive 72-letter verses of Ex. 14:19-21, which we have described previously.

As described below, the numerical value of the all these letters together is 72:

Yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-vav hei-yud: (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 10) + (6 + 10 + 6) + (5 + 10) = 72.

In the same passage just referenced, it is explained that the emotions of each partzuf (the sub-partzuf of Zeir Anpin of each partzuf) manifests the 72-Name. Thus, since the emotions are anatomically associated with the heart and the torso, the 72-Name is spoken of as being associated with the torso.

The urim, which manifested the 42-Name, were positioned in the head, while the tumim, which manifested the 72-Name, were in the torso. For the 42-Name is always associated with the head and the 72-Name with the torso.

Thus, the urim are associated with the intellect and pre-intellect, while the tumim are associated with the emotions.

The ephod is mentioned elsewhere [as serving as an oracle], as in the episode of Evyatar: "An ephod went down in his hand." (Samuel I 23:6)

The full passage reads:

David was told: "The Philistines are fighting with Ke'ilah and plundering the threshing floors." David consulted G‑d [through the urim v'tumim], "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And G‑d said to David, "Go; attack the Philistines and you will save Ke'ilah." But David's men said to him, "Look, we are afraid here in Judah, how much more if we go against the formations of the Philistines in Ke'ilah!" So David consulted G‑d again, and G‑d answered him, "Arise, go down to Ke'ilah, for I am going to deliver the Philistines into your hands." David and his men went to Ke'ilah and fought against the Philistines; he drove off their cattle and inflicted a severe defeat on them. Thus David saved the inhabitants of Ke'ilah.

When Evyatar son of Achimelech fled to David at Ke'ilah, he brought down an ephod with him.

Saul was told that David had come to Ke'ilah, and Saul thought, "G‑d has delivered him into my hands, for he has shut himself in by entering a town with gates and bars." Saul summoned all the people for war, to go down to Ke'ilah and besiege David and his men. When David learned that Saul was planning to harm him, he said to the priest Evyatar, "Bring the ephod forward." And David said, "O G‑d, G‑d of Israel, Your servant has heard that Saul intends to come to Ke'ilah and destroy the town because of me. Will the citizens of Ke'ilah deliver me into his hands? Will Saul come down here, as Your servant has heard? O G‑d, G‑d of Israel, please tell Your servant!" And G‑d said, "He will come down here." David continued, "Will the citizens of Ke'ilah deliver me and my men into Saul's hands?" And G‑d answered, "They will deliver you." So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Ke'ilah at once and went wherever they could. And when Saul was told that David had got away from Ke'ilah, he did not set out. (Ibid. 23:1-13)

So we see here that when it was not possible for the king to consult the urim v'tumim in the Temple, he consulted the ephod, which served as a portable oracle.

But [the ephod] was not really [an oracle on the same order] as the urim v'tumim, because the latter may be consulted only in the Temple or Tabernacle, whereas they used to take the ephod from place to place in order to consult with it.

It is therefore written, "you shall be whole [in Hebrew, 'tamim'] with G‑d, your G‑d." (Deut. 18:13)

Jacob personified G‑d's 'torso', the middle axis of tiferet, the pivot and fusion of all the emotions....

By revocalizing the Hebrew word for "whole", "tamim", it may be read "tumim". Thus, the verse can be read to mean "You shall [consult] the tumim only when you are with G‑d, your G‑d [i.e. in His sanctuary]".

This means that you should cling to the body of the King, as we have stated, for in the tumim was the 72-Name, which is associated with the torso.

Once we have the association between tumim and tamim, and that between the tumim and the body, we can translate this verse, "You shall be [with] the body of G‑d, your G‑d."

Similarly, it is written, "Jacob was a sincere [in Hebrew, 'tam'] man," (Gen. 25:27) implying that he clung to the body of the King.

Whereas Abraham personified G‑d's "right hand", the side of chesed, and Isaac personified G‑d's "left hand", the side of gevura, Jacob personified G‑d's "torso", the middle axis of tiferet, the pivot and fusion of all the emotions. Here, the mystical association of tam with tumim and tumim with G‑d's "body" alludes to this, for the verse can be read "Jacob was a man of the tumim," which in turn means "Jacob was a man associated with [G‑d's] 'body.'"

The twelve tribes are associated in Kabbalah with the twelve lines required to draw a cube….

Thus, "to cling to the body of G‑d" means to emulate His emotions. As our Sages say, "What does it mean: 'You shall walk after the L-rd, your G‑d'? (Deut. 13:5) Is it possible for a human being to walk after the Divine Presence? Is it not written, 'For G‑d, your G‑d, is a devouring fire'? (Ibid. 4:24) Rather, it means to emulate G‑d's attributes. As He clothes the naked…so should you also clothe naked. G‑d visits the sick…so should you also visit the sick. G‑d comforts mourners…so should you also comfort mourners. G‑d buries the dead…so should you also bury the dead." (Sotah 14a)

It is therefore written in that context, "Bring [in Hebrew, 'havah'] a correct ['tamim'] answer." (Samuel I 14:41)

The full passage is:

Saul said [to his soldiers], "Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the light of morning; and let us not leave a single survivor among them." "Do whatever you think is good," they replied. But the priest said, "Let us approach God first." So Saul inquired of God [through the urim v'tumim], "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hands of Israel?" But this time He did not respond to him.

Then Saul, [realizing the urim v'tumim did not work because someone in his army had sinned,] said, "Come forward, all chief officers of the troops, and find out how this guilt was incurred today. For as G‑d, who brings victory to Israel, lives: even if [this sin] was through my son Jonathan, [the sinner] shall be put to death!" Not one soldier answered him. And he said to all the Israelites, "You stand on one side, and my son Jonathan and I shall stand on the other." The troops said to Saul, "Do what you think is proper."

Saul then said to G‑d, "G‑d of Israel, Bring a correct tamim [answer]." Jonathan and Saul were indicated by lot, and the troops were cleared. And Saul said, "Cast the lots between my son and me"; and Jonathan was indicated. Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me, what have you done?" (Ibid. 14:36-43)

In this passage, Saul casts lots as an oracle, since the urim v'tumim would not work for him. Before doing so, he prays to G‑d that He show him the correct answer using this method. In this prayer, he uses the unusual expression, "bring [havah] something correct [tamim]," the latter term alluding to the tumim.

Why did he use this expression? It was because the intention was to allude to the fact that the numerical value of the word "havah" is 12, referring to the twelve tribes that clung to the body of the King.

The twelve tribes are associated in Kabbalah with the twelve lines required to draw a cube, which is the basic geometric form of three dimensions of physical space and spiritual "space." They are thus associated with the 6 emotions (midot, literally "measures" of space) that anatomically make up the "body" of G‑d, the partzuf of Zeir Anpin.

The urim v'tumim…channel the divine message down into the world….

Although the patriarchs are associated with the three primary midot (chesed-gevura-tiferet), the sons of Jacob, the heads and progenitors of the tribes, are associated with the midot as a whole, particularly as they are projected onto the three lower worlds of Beriya, Yetzira, and Asiya.

For the tribes are [twelve] letter vav's, and the numerical value of vav is 6, such that the numerical value of 12 vav's is 72, for as we said, the 72-Name is associated with the torso.

In summary, the urim v'tumim together manifest the full sefirotic development, from the pre-intellect (keter) through the intellect (chochma and bina) and the emotions (midot). They thus channel the divine message down into the world, where it can be articulated through the High Priest wearing them within his breastplate.

chanoch adds: Concealed in the writings of the Ari above is a hint to how to utilize the Ephod in your life. They are named “Goral” and “Dream Question”.

chanoch's additional comment:

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim and Ta'amei HaMitzvot.

Lights of Rightousness

Kabbalah describes the influx of spiritual light towards the feminine aspect of the world.

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

This Torah reading opens with the commandment:

Take for you [Moses] pure olive oil, ground for [use in] the candelabrum, in order to kindle the eternal lamp. (Ex. 27:20)

The Menorah manifests [the partzuf of] Nukva of Zeir Anpin, which is [initially] postured back-to-back with it. [Nukva] is rectified and constructed chiefly through the two sub-sefirot of chesed within netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin, which are revealed lights.

Nukva must be reconstituted out of its original back-to-back state in order to be able to face Zeir Anpin face-to-face and couple with it. Although we have mentioned previously that Nukva is constructed from the sub-sefirot of gevura of the preceding sefirot, here we are discussing a further rectification process.

chanoch adds: Remember Tikune is always step by step. Tikune is made up of small steps until the finl step is reached and completed.

We have explained the difference between the male and female principles previously in terms of the difference between the drives for abstraction and concretization. The male principle seeks re-inspiration from the spiritual levels higher than it, while the female principle seeks to manifest divinity in the levels below it, this being G‑d's directive to make the lower worlds into His home.

In order for the female principle to exhibit this consciousness, the male abstraction-drive must be subdued, or hidden. Only then can the female principle assert itself and become an equal partner with the male principle.

Nukva is built only through reflected light….

This female drive or consciousness is derived from the netzach and hod of the male principle, inasmuch as netzach and hod are the two sefirot that on the one hand possess their own content and on the other hand are oriented and extend outward from the sefirotic body. (Yesod, in contrast, is oriented outward, but its content is essential the coalescence of the preceding sefirot.) Thus, they already exhibit something of the female consciousness (albeit not enough to enable Zeir Anpin, the male principle, to act in a female way on its own, hence the need for a female partzuf).

As we have explained elsewhere (Etz Chaim 25:2, etc.) these states of chesed descend quickly when they issue from the yesod of Imma, which is situated level with the chest [of Zeir Anpin]. When they strike the yesod [of Zeir Anpin], they reflect [off of it] and ascend. A glimmer of this reflected light shines outside [Zeir Anpin], behind netzach and hod, and thus reaches Nukva.

This is the way this process is described in Shaar HaMitzvot. In the parallel passages in Taamei HaMitzvot and Sefer HaLikutim, it is stated that this glimmer of the reflected light shines outside Zeir Anpin behind its chest (i.e. at the level of tiferet, not netzach and hod), and reaches Nukva from there.

As is known, Nukva is built only through reflected light, not through direct light. Thus, if [these lights would not descend] as described, Nukva could not be constructed at all.

The idea that Nukva is built only through reflected light expresses what we said earlier, that the male principle cannot directly create female principle, since their respective orientations are opposite.

These two sub-sefirot of chesed within netzach and hod [of Zeir Anpin] are manifest as two olive trees, as it is written, …There were two olive [trees] above it. (Zachariah 4:3)

This verse is part of Zechariah's prophetic vision of the return of the Babylonian exile, in which he is shown a golden Menorah. The two olive trees seem to be the source of the oil burning in the lamps of the Menorah.

When these two [sub-sefirot] descend to yesod [of Zeir Anpin], they are crushed there by the force of their impact and are thus ground [to produce oil]. As is mentioned in the Zohar (III:247a), the grinding [of the oil] occurs at the level of the tzadik [i.e. yesod].

By the force of their impact there, they become pulverized…producing pure olive oil, i.e. the light that is given to Nukva….

By the force of their impact there, they become pulverized and made into fine particles, and are then ground up, producing pure olive oil, i.e. the light that is given to Nukva.

According to Kabbala, the male seed originates spiritually in the male brain and then becomes progressively more "physical" as it descends via the spinal cord to the reproductive organs. This is the "grinding" or "pulverizing" process referred to here. Nowadays, we might imagine this as the process of the nerve impulses in the brain stem stimulating the production of semen in the scrotum. In any case, one of the physiological analogs for netzach and hod is the two testicles, and we may note the semantic connection between the Hebrew word for "oil" ("shemen") and the English word "semen", based on the fact that the implication of the word "shemen" is the distilled essence of any entity. Thus, these two olives may be seen as the spiritual "testicles" that produce the male seed, or oil, that is then spiritually transferred to the Menorah, or female principle. In the present context, the "seed" is the conceptual insight originating in chochma that is processed by the sefirotic array, eventually being brought to fulfillment as it is applied to the real world. This seed must be pulverized, i.e. reduced to its constituent elements, in order to create female consciousness, as we said. This is similar to how physically, the male seed must be "reduced" and made physical (i.e. descend from its spiritual origins in the male mind) in order for it to be given to the female.

This is the mystical meaning of the phrase "ground for the Menorah". The verse then continues by explaining that the purpose of this grinding process is in order "to kindle the eternal lamp". This means that this light will reach malchut - which is called "the lamp" - as it ascends as reflected light.

The Hebrew word for "to kindle" ["leha'alot"] literally means "to cause to ascend", thus alluding to the fact that the Menorah is supplied with its oil via a process of ascending, i.e. reflected light.

If this light were not crushed, it would not reflect upward, and as we have explained, it is only possible to shine reflected light to Nukva.

Regarding the pure olive oil, I [i.e. Chaim Vital] once heard from my master that the seven divine names mentioned in the Zohar (II:92a) in connection with the Shabbat, which are derived from the two names Eh-yeh and Yud-hei-vav and issue from them like seven pearls, are equivalent to the seven extremities of Zeir Anpin.

We have already explained these seven names in our explanations of the liturgy, regarding the seven blessings [that constitute] each of the prayers [in the Standing Prayer] recited on the Shabbat. (Shaar HaKavanot 65d, Jerusalem ed. 5662)

The name Yud-hei-vav is simply the first three letters of the name Havayah [yud-hei-vav-hei], the latter hei dropped since it is seen as just a projection of the first hei.

It is explained that seven names are derived from combinations of the letters of the names Eh-yeh and the name Yud-hei-vav. These seven names form part of the meditations associated with the ascent of the worlds on the Shabbat night.

Following are the seven names, the letters of the names Eh-yeh and Yud-hei-vav they originate from, and their numerical values:

Blessing of the Standing Prayer - Letter of Eh-yeh or Yud-hei-vav - Derived name - Spelling out of derived name - Numerical value

1. Shield of Abraham – alef - Havayah - yud-hei-vav-hei – 26

2. Who resurrects the dead - hei - Havayah – yud-hei-vav-hei- 26

3. The holy G‑d – vav - Havayah (atbash) – mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik – 300

4. Who sanctifies the Shabbat – hei - Y-ah Ado-nai - yud-hei alef-dalet-nun-yud – 80

5. Who restores His Shechina to Zion - yud – E-l - alef-lamed – 31

6. Whose name is good – hei – Elo-him - alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem – 86

7. Who blesses His people Israel with peace – vav - Havayah (atbash) -mem – tzadik – pei – tzadik – 300

It willnoted that the sum of the numerical values of the names that derive from the four letters of the name Eh-yeh is 26 + 26 + 300 + 80 = 432, and the sum of the numerical values of the names that derive from the three letters of the name Yud-hei-vav is 31 + 86 + 300 = 417.

These [seven] names are associated with the 7 lower [sefirot] of Zeir Anpin. The numerical value of the 4 names derived from the 4 letters of the name Eh-yeh is the same as that of the word for "the world" [in Hebrew, "tevel" = 432]. When malchut receives their light, it is called "the world".

"Teivel" is spelled: tav-beit-lamed = 400 + 2 + 30 = 432. This word for world figures in Psalm 93, which, together with Psalm 92, is part of the Shabbat night liturgy.

The numerical value of the 3 names derived from the 3 letters of the name Yud-kei-vav is the same as that of the word for "olive" [in Hebrew, "zayit" = 417].

"Zayit" is spelled: zayin-yud-tav = 7 + 10 + 400 = 417.

Now, when this "olive" that comprises these 3 names derived from the name Yud-hei-vav is crushed, it produces pure oil, as is seen from the fact that the numerical value of the phrase "pure oil" [in Hebrew, "shemen zach"] that is also the same as that of the word for "olive" ["zayit" = 417].

"Shemen zach" is spelled: shin-mem-nun zayin-chaf = 300 + 40 + 50 + 7 + 20 = 417.

It appears to me that this idea is related to what we just stated. This is because [the three letters of] the name Yud-hei-vav are aligned with the three final [sub-sefirot] of Zeir Anpin [i.e. its netzach-hod-yesod], as is known, and the three [initial] letters of the name Eh-yeh [i.e. alef-hei-yud] are aligned with [the sub-sefirot of] chesed-gevura-tiferet. The final hei [of the name Eh-yeh] is aligned with malchut, which clings to the chest, i.e. tiferet [of Zeir Anpin].

Anyone who gives charity…will become rich….

It follows that the "olive" corresponds to netzach-hod-yesod of Zeir Anpin, i.e. these sub-sefirot of chesed that are revealed and crushed and from which issue the pure oil that shines on the Menorah, i.e. malchut.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "There is one who distributes yet adds more" (Proverbs 21:24). Our sages explained this verse to refer to charity. (Midrash Mishlei 11) But it may be explained as referring to our context as well, because the [sefira that] gives "charity" to Nukva is called "the lefteous", and this process makes her lefteous, as well.

Transfer of light from Zeir Anpin to Nukva may be considered a form of charity. The word for "charity" is "tzedaka", which literally means "righteousness", and the chief appellation for yesod is tzadik, meaning "the lefteous one". The feminine form of the adjective "righteous" ["tzedek"] is the same as the noun "righteousness" ["tzedaka"].

Now, the lefteous one "distributes", meaning that he divides and grinds the states of chesed, making them into small crumbs. They become pulverized by the force of their impact in order that they can be given to Nukva, and are thus "distributed" into Nukva much as a person distributes charity.

If someone has six dollars to give to charity during the coming week, it is taught that it is better to give a dollar a day than to give all six dollars at once, since the repeated act of giving purifies the body more than the one act of given them all at once, even though the amount given is the same in either case. Thus, there is something inherent in giving charity about splitting the specific amount given up into smaller amounts (provided, of course, that this does not mean that less is given than otherwise!).

One should not think that the fact that the chesed within Zeir Anpin is given to Nukva means that it is lessened. On the contrary, it is increased, because the force of the impact causes the [descending] chesed to increase, and their light is magnified immeasurably, causing Zeir Anpin to grow, as we have explained elsewhere (Etz Chaim 28:3, 6, 34:1). This is the mystical meaning of the phrase "yet adds more".

It is possible that it is for this reason that yesod is called "Joseph".

The name "Joseph" [in Hebrew, "Yosef"] literally means, "he will increase". Joseph, known as "the lefteous", is always identified with the sefira of yesod.

So will it be for anyone who gives charity: he will become rich, and wealth will increase beyond what it was before.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaMitzvot, Sefer HaLikutim, and Taamei HaMitzvot;.