Fathers of Good and Evil

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

The evil offspring of Abraham and Isaac all play a role in the rectification of humankind

This parasha contains the story of how Isaac, when he was old, wished to bless his son Esau, and how his wife, Rebecca, tricked him into blessing Jacob instead.

"When Isaac was old and his eyesight failing, he called Esau, his elder son, and said to him, "My son," and he answered him, "I am here." He said, "Look, I have now grown old…so now, please…go out to the field and catch some game for me. Prepare it for me as delicacies in a way that I like…so my soul may bless you before I die."

"Rebecca was listening while Isaac was speaking to Esau…. Esau went off to catch some game… Rebecca told Jacob, her son, "I have just heard your father speaking to Esau, your brother… So now, my son, listen to me, to what I command you. Go now to the flock and take two of my choice kid-goats, and I will prepare them as delicacies for your father in a way that he likes…so that he may bless you before his death."

"Jacob said to Rebecca, his mother, '…Maybe my father…will consider me an imposter, and then I shall bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing'."

"His mother said to him, 'Let your curse be upon me, my son. Only listen to me and go take from my [goats]'." (Gen. 27:1-13)

The allegorical explanation of this is as follows: When Adam [and Eve] sinned, in order to be rectified they were reincarnated into the three Patriarchs and three Matriarchs.

The sin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil comprised the three cardinal sins that a Jew is commanded to lay down his life rather than transgress: idolatry, murder, and infidelity. (Zohar III:111b)

Abraham rectified the sin of idolatry when he was thrown into the fiery furnace in Ur, as it is written, "And you shall burn their Asherah-trees in fire." (Deut. 12:3)

The Asherah-tree was an idol. We see here that the destruction of idolatry is by fire, and Abraham submitted to the fire rather than serve idols. He thus rectified this aspect of Adam's sin.

[Abraham was not subjected to this ordeal] because of himself, but rather because of the spark of Ishmael that was still present within him. This is the mystical meaning of our sages' saying, "The righteous are caught in the sin of the generation." (Challah 6)

A righteous individual may have to suffer because he hosts a pernicious presence within…

This saying of our sages explains why the righteous are sometimes seen to suffer: sometimes, it is simply because their generation needs to be rectified for some general sin and they, being part of this generation, are considered guilty by association. (Evidently, this means that they failed to exert the influence they could have to keep their contemporaries from sinning, opting instead to tolerate the generation's sin and concentration on their own spirituality.) Mystically, this refers to the fact that a righteous individual may have to suffer because he "hosts" (i.e. "tolerates") a pernicious presence within him.

chanoch adds: All Tzadikim have students or / and people who the spiritual system puts these people under the umbrella of the light of the Tzadik. This heps to understand this phrase “pernicious presence within”.

Thus, when Ishmael issued from Abraham's body, he revealed his true nature, as it is written, "And Sarah saw that the son of Hagar the Egyptian was making sport." (Gen. 21:9) Our sages said that this means that he was serving idols. (Bereishit Rabba 53; Zohar I:118b)

When Abraham saw that Ishmael was wicked and had incurred the death penalty [for serving idols], he prayed, "If only Ishmael would live before You," (Gen. 17:18) i.e. would repent. And so it was, that Ishmael indeed repented, as is known. (Bava Batra 16a)

Subsequently, the spark of goodness present in Ishmael issued from him as Yitra the Ishmaelite, who married the daughter of Nachash. Understand this.

King David was challenged by his son, Absalom; "Absalom appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab; Amasa was the son of a man named Yitra the Ishmaelite, who consorted with Abigail daughter of Nachash, the sister of Joab's mother Tzeruyah." (Samuel II 17:25) Tzeruya and Abigail were David's sisters (Chronicles I 2:16) so Amasa was his nephew through Abigail, and Nachash was evidently another name for David's father, Jesse.

Yitra is also called "Yeter the Ishmaelite," (Chronicles I 2:17) for, although Jewish, he lived in the land of the Ishmaelites (which is why they called him "the Israelite").

[Abraham then had] Isaac, who was his good spark, but present with him was a spark of murder. He therefore laid down his life as a burnt offering upon the altar [to be slaughtered]. Since [this murderous spark] was not his sin but that of someone else [dormant within him]; he was spared, and a ram was offered in his stead.

Afterwards, this evil impurity issued from him as Esau. Isaac, too, wanted to bless [his son Esau] and thereby cause him to repent [and be as righteous] as Jacob.

Since Adam had been cursed because of Eve, the blessings were given to Jacob through [the efforts of] his mother [Rebecca], who was a reincarnation of Eve.

A conduit of blessing, Rebecca rectified the sin of Eve, who had brought a curse upon the world…

By being a conduit of blessing, Rebecca rectified the sin of Eve, who had brought a curse upon the world.

They [i.e. the blessings] were not transmitted to him by his father Isaac, for Isaac thought that Jacob had not yet rectified reality. And it is known that "when this one falls, the other one rises." Therefore, [Isaac reasoned that Esau, the personification of] the snake, was fit to receive the blessings.

Since, in Isaac's eyes, Jacob had not done his job by rectifying reality, he was in a low state, and therefore Esau, his nemesis, was in an exalted state, fit to receive and capitalize on the blessings.

Esau…is a reincarnation of Cain…

Esau, after all, is a reincarnation of Cain, and that is why [Cain] killed his brother Abel with his mouth, as is known.

He bit him profusely, not knowing where his soul would leave him. (Zohar I:54b) Esau is the image of a wild man "whose game was in his mouth." (Gen. 25:28)

This is the meaning of the verse: (Gen. 27:1)

"He called Esau, his older son…" - Esau was like the older of the original brothers, Cain.

"…and he said to him, 'My son'" - This means: you are the reincarnation of Cain, the son of Adam.

"…and he answered him, 'I am here'" - i.e. yes, I am.

He then commanded him [to bring him game], for just as Cain took the [untamed] land [while Abel pastured the domesticated flocks], Esau likewise was "a hunter, a man of the field." (Gen. 25:27) He therefore spent his time in the fields killing, as did Cain.

And since Cain came from the impurity of the snake [who had raped Eve], which caused Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, tasting two flavors [i.e. good and evil] - [Isaac] therefore commanded [Esau] to "make me delicacies", in the plural, implying two flavors. "Just as Adam hungered for two flavors, make me [a dish] of two flavors: good and evil."

Isaac was attempting to have Esau rectify the murder-aspect of Adam's sin

Thus, Isaac was attempting to have Esau rectify the murder-aspect of Adam's sin by having him bring him a two-flavored dish acquired by killing. Isaac's eating the two-flavored dish for positive purposes (to bless Esau and thus continue the line of Abraham and the work of rectifying the world) would rectify Adam's eating a "two-flavored dish" (the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil) for negative motives.

It is an accepted principle of Biblical exegesis that whenever the Torah uses the plural, it implies two of the referent. This is so because we assume the Biblical text intends to be explicit, rather than vague, and the minimum a plural can imply is two.

For [Isaac] thought that the world had not yet been rectified, [as stated above]. Jacob also thought that the sin of Adam had not yet been rectified. Therefore, he reasoned, if he tricked his father, he would be adding iniquity to the existing [and unrectified] sin [of Adam]. [He was afraid] this would bring a curse upon him, the opposite of what the blessing would bring upon him, i.e. the rectification of Adam's curse. This is the meaning of what Jacob said: "…and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing."

Rebecca was saying, "I, in my incarnation as Eve, caused Adam to be cursed. I am now rectifying this."

His mother then told him that the time had come to rectify this aspect of the sin of Adam. She therefore told him, "Listen to my voice." In so doing, she was rectifying Adam's sin [of listening to his wife, as it is written:] "And to Adam [G‑d] said, 'Since you listened to the voice of your wife…'"(Gen. 3:17)

Adam sinned by listening to his wife for improper purposes. By having her son listen to her for proper purposes, Rebecca sought to rectify this aspect of Adam's sin.

In this context, Rebecca's words, "Upon me be your curse, my son" mean: "the curse you suffered in Adam's time is my fault."

"I, in my incarnation as Eve, caused Adam to be cursed. I am now rectifying this."

This also explains why she continues, "Only listen to my voice…" [The word "only"] limits her words [implying that "this time you should listen, while last time you should not have"] because that was listening for bad purposes.

And because the sin of Adam was that [Eve] squeezed grapes and gave him [to drink] (Bereishit Rabba 19:8; Zohar III:236a), so too, here, "[Jacob] brought [Isaac] wine and he drank." [This was real wine,] not one-day old grape juice with its dregs.

He who understands will understand all this at length. I [Rav Shmuel Vital] copied this from the book Etz HaDa'at by [my father] Rabbi Chaim Vital.

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

Like the Dew of Mount Hermon

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

Isaac and Rebecca's prayer drew forth the Infinite Light

In the beginning of the portion of the Torah read this week, Isaac and Rebecca pray for children:

Isaac entreated G‑d opposite his wife, because she was barren. (Gen. 25:21)

When G‑d's infinite light descends, it becomes manifest in Atika, that is, in Arich Anpin. [Arich Anpin extends throughout] the entire measure of Atzilut; the other [partzufim] enclothe Arich Anpin [to various extents].

Atika means "the ancient one" or "primordial one." The partzuf that develops from the inner dimension of keter is called Atik Yomin, but the term Atika Kadisha ("Holy Ancient One") or just Atika ("Ancient One") refers to the partzuf that develops from the outer dimension of keter, Arich Anpin.

Joseph…is called "morning", for light issues from him…

Arich Anpin is synonymous with the will. G‑d's will to manifest at any particular level is what is responsible for the existence of that level of revelation, i.e., that world. Thus, the will permeates the entire world that develops out of it, and is the inner force driving all the other manifestations of His powers (i.e., partzufim) at that level.

It follows that when this light wishes to extend into Beriya, [we would imagine that it would issue from] the feet of Arich Anpin, since they reach this far. But this is impossible, for his feet are blocked there, and the light cannot issue forth.

The "feet" - or malchut - are the lowest level of the partzuf of Arich Anpin, so we would assume that they embody the lowest intensity of will in the world of Atzilut, which would be appropriate to create the world of Beriya. We see, however, that there is no orifice in the feet for any type of "light" to issue through. This is basically because the feet, existing as they do at the lowest level, must be insulated in order to prevent any unwarranted flow of divine light to the powers of evil.

Rather, the light issues forth from yesod [of Arich Anpin], which is situated above, between the thighs. From there it issues to Zeir Anpin, which enclothes it. When the light issues from the yesod of Arich Anpin, it is opposite the daat of Zeir Anpin.

The light that issues from Arich Anpin in order to eventually create the next world, that of Beriya, issues from its yesod. As we have explained previously, yesod is the drive toward actualization of any particular partzuf.

The other partzufim of Atzilut are smaller than Arich Anpin and enclothe only various segments of it. For example, Abba and Imma enclothe the chesed-gevura-tiferet of Arich Anpin; Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin from the lower third of its tiferet down to its malchut, and so on. Here we see that the daat of Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin opposite its yesod. This simply means that the drive within Arich Anpin for self-actualization becomes the daat - or subjective knowledge - of the partzuf of emotion.

The light that issues from yesod is called "morning", as it is written, "the morning was light." (Genesis 44:3) [Yesod] is synonymous with Joseph, who is [also] called "morning", for light issues from him.

The phrase "the morning was light" occurs in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Due to his sexual purity, Joseph is associated with the sefira of yesod.

Now, the light that issues from the beard, via the hairs, is called mazal, because it "flows" drop by drop. A mazal is a spiritual conduit of divine life-force…

The word "mazal" in Hebrew is derived from the root letters nun-zayin-lamed, which spell the Hebrew word meaning "to flow". A mazal is a spiritual conduit of divine life-force, which flows from it to some other level.

To explain: The light of the Infinite One [first] becomes manifest in the head of Arich Anpin, in which are situated the brains. When it then seeks to be manifest [further down] through the throat, which is narrow, the light bursts forth [through the skin] as hair. This is the origin of the beard.

The transformation of divine consciousness from the mental to the emotional state is a drastic change, and involves a tzimtzum, or contraction, of the light. This is the spiritual mechanics behind the anatomical phenomenon of the neck being such a narrow connection between the head and the torso. Despite this contraction, the light descending from the mental faculties is still too intense to be completely funneled through the passageway of the neck/throat, and therefore, the residual aspects of it exude through the pores of the skin as the beard.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "[the sound of] the mighty/adirim [waters] that break the sea." (Ps. 93:4) These [waters] are from the hairs, as in the expression "he was entirely [covered] with a cloak/aderet of hair." (Gen. 25:25) When the vessel is pierced and the light issues forth as a hair, this is the cloak.

The word "adir" carries both the meaning of "mighty" and that of a magnificent "cloak" or "mantle", as a symbol of royalty and power.

Hair is like the letter vav, and the light within it is like the letter yud, which depicts the point of light within it.

The form of the letter vav represents an elongated channel, similar to a hair. The form of the letter yud symbolizes the particle of light that issues via the hair.

The beard of Arich Anpin extends down to its navel, which is opposite the head of Zeir Anpin.

The light that manifests and pierces via the beard originates in the three brains…

The navel demarcates the division of the torso into its upper two thirds and its lower third. The top-most part of the head of Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin from this point, the lower third of tiferet of Arich Anpin.

[The lights of the beard issue] in thirteen parts. This is because the light that manifests and pierces via the beard originates in the three brains. These [states of mentality] are three names Havayah, which together possess 12 letters. These together with the 13th level that encompasses them all are 13 states of rectification. Therefore, all these 13 states [are channeled] through the beard of this male.

Each of the three "brains" or mentalities (chochma, bina, and daat) is a different manifestation of G‑d's creative energy, which is expressed in the name Havayah. Arich Anpin is considered a male partzuf, and there is no corresponding female partzuf that shares its mental states. These can therefore be entirely channeled through its own beard.

But below, there are only nine parts of the beard of Zeir Anpin. For above, in Arich Anpin, there is no feminine principle. The three final letters hei in the three names Havayah are for the female, and what is left [for the male] is the three letters yud-hei-vav in each name. This is why there are nine parts of the beard of Zeir Anpin and 13 parts of the beard of Arich Anpin.

When the three names Havayah in the three brains of Arich Anpin descend into its torso, there is no feminine principle to absorb the residual light from the final hei's of these names that pierces through the skin of the jaw and neck. Therefore, all this light can be manifest as a beard. When the similar process occurs in Zeir Anpin, however, there is the partzuf of Nukva to absorb the feminine energy from these letters. Thus, there are only 9 letters left to manifest in the beard. There is no kolel here (as there is in Arich Anpin) since the full array is not present.

Of these thirteen [parts of the beard of Arich Anpin], two are referred to as a mazal, in that divine beneficence flows downward through them. These are the attributes of "storing kindness" and "and acquits."

His robe was like white snow…

As we have mentioned previously, the thirteen tufts of the beard of Arich Anpin are synonymous with the thirteen attributes, or aspects, of divine mercy:

Exodus 34 beard Attributes of Mercy

1 mighty - sideburns – El

2 merciful - mustache – Rachum

3 and gracious - the lack of hair in the middle of the mustache – Wechanun

4 long - the hair under the lower lip – Arich

5 suffering - the lack of hair in the middle of the hair under the lower lip – HaaPayim

6 abundant in kindness - the hair of the jaw bone – WeRav Chesed

7 and truth - the lack of hair on the cheeks – WeEmet

8 storing kindness - the upper layer of the beard – Notzer with a large Nun

9 to thousands - the short hairs between the upper and lower layers of the beard -

10 bearing iniquity - the small hairs near the throat -

11 and transgression - the fact that these small hairs are all of equal size -

12 and sin - the lack of hair in the mouth

13 and acquits - the lower layer of the beard – Wenakay

It will be noted that these two (#8 and #13) are the upper and lower layers of the beard proper. As opposed to all the other parts of the beard in this table, these two extend downward.

These two mazalot couple and bestow beneficence on Zeir Anpin and Nukva. This is why it is said that these hairs reach the level of the navel [of Arich Anpin], for they impart beneficence to Zeir Anpin and Nukva, which exist from the level of the navel and downward.

The word for "storing [kindness]" ["notzer", spelled nun-tzadik-reish] may be permuted to spell the word for "will" ["ratzon", spelled reish-tzadik-vav-nun].

There is an implied vav in between the nun and the tzadik of notzer. This affords an association between this attribute of mercy and Arich Anpin, the partzuf of will.

chanoch adds: Perhaps this is the reason for the large Nun which connects to Binah as well.

This is because bina is termed "will," and it is the attribute of chesed. For this reason the high priest was robed in eight vestments. In general, the beard of the high priest is associated with bina, the eighth sefira.

The eighth attribute is "storing chesed," and we have just noted that "storing" is a permutation of "will." There must, therefore, be a connection between "will" and chesed. The connecting link is bina.

When Isaac and Rebecca were praying, they were addressing these two attributes…

In the verse, "like the beard of Aaron, cascading down over his garments…" (Ps.133:2), we see that the beard is associated with Aaron, the first high priest. The word for "his garments" in this verse ("middotav") also can mean "his middot" or "his emotions". Thus, we have the image of Aaron the high priest with his beard flowing into the middot. In light of what we have seen above, this makes us identify Aaron with Arich Anpin, whose beard flows into Zeir Anpin, the partzuf of the middot.

As we said, middot can mean both emotions and garments. However, the high priest wore eight garments, while we usually speak of only seven middot. The eighth midda, then, is the next sefira in the series, which, if we begin with malchut and count upwards, is bina. In Aaron, or Arich Anpin, we may thus consider bina together with the middot.

The priest in his service elicits divine goodwill, as is seen in many verses throughout the Torah.

As we have also explained previously, the priest (Kohen) expressed the divine attribute of chesed, while the Levite (Levi) expressed the attribute of gevura.

The beard moreover is a garment, as it is written, "His robe was like white snow, [and the hair of his head was like pure wool]" (Dan. 7:9) and the beard is the attribute of "and acquits."

The verse quoted is a description of "the Ancient of Days", which, although usually as a term refers to the partzuf of Atik Yomin, is evidently taken here to refer to Arich Anpin (which, after all, enclothes Atik Yomin just as the other partzufim of Atzilut enclothe it). The "robe" in this verse is understood to be a white, flowing beard. The second half of the verse speaks of the hair of the head being like "pure wool". The word for used for "pure" or "clean" here is naka, Aramaic for nakeh (the whole verse, like most of the book of Daniel, is in Aramaic), the word for "acquits" in the list of the 13 attributes of mercy.

These two mazalot couple as one, [as mentioned above].

Now, these two mazalot are the two drops [of anointing oil] that hung at the end of Aaron's beard, as our sages have said. (Horayot 12a) This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "It is like the precious oil upon the head, cascading down upon the beard." (Ps. Ibid.) The oil is the light of chochma, as the sages say, "whoever is accustomed to use oil merits chochma."(Menachot 85a)

And as we have explained previously, chochma is the seminal drop of insight that enters the conscious mind as a concentrated essence from the super-conscious. This is similar to oil, which is the concentrated essence of the olive.

All the brains are receptacles for chochma and are called by its name. This is the mystical meaning of [the phrase from the above-quoted verse,] "like the precious oil."

The meaning is as follows: The order in which the partzufim enclothe Arich Anpin is that Abba enclothes his right arm and [the right] half of his torso, while Imma enclothes his left arm and [the left] half of his torso. [Both extend downward and enclothe him] as far as his navel. This is the mystical significance of the tefillin that we put on our left hand, for we elevate thereby the Nukva into Imma, which enclothes the left hand of Arich Anpin.

Zeir Anpin enclothes the right thigh [of Arich Anpin] up to his navel, while Nukva of Zeir Anpin enclothes his left thigh up to his navel. This is the meaning of [the statement in the Zohar:] "he is with netzach, and she is with hod."

Netzach and hod correspond to the right and left legs, respectively.

The beard of Arich Anpin extends down to his navel, where is found the head of Zeir Anpin. This is the mystical meaning of the expression "upon the head" [in the verse quoted above], for the divine beneficence flows onto the head of Zeir Anpin.

The verse thus reads, mystically: "Like the precious oil - i.e., chochma, suspended as drops on the end of the beard of Arich Anpin, which is on top of the head of Zeir Anpin."

But before it reaches the head of Zeir Anpin it "cascades down the beard," meaning that it ascends to [the eighth part of the beard,] "storing [chesed]."

For this attribute of divine mercy corresponds to the upper layer of the beard proper.

This is the mystical meaning of the [continuation of the verse quoted above:] "running down over his garments". The word for "his garments" [midotav] can be read as "the middot of [the letters] vav-yud", meaning the hairs, as mentioned above. That is why the word "over" [al] is used here, for it refers to the hairs themselves.

The vav signifies the hollow channel of the hair, and the yud signifies the light pulsing through it. Thus, the verse describes the light of chochma flowing down the beard.

[Once it has received the influx of chochma from Arich Anpin via its beard,] Zeir Anpin then gives it in turn to Nukva. This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "Open for me, my bride…, for my head is full of dew". (Song. 5:2) The dew refers to the light which flows from the hair of his head, whose numerical value is the same as that of the word for "dew" ["tal", tet-lamed = 39].

[This verse continues:] "…my locks with the drops of the night." These [locks] are the hair on the back of the head [of Zeir Anpin], which hang down until they reach the head of Nukva, behind him. This is the mystical meaning of "the drops of the night," i.e., the drops [of chochma] that reach "night," i.e., malchut.

Day and night are masculine and feminine images, and therefore correspond to the male and female archetypes of Zeir Anpin and Nukva.

Now, when Isaac and Rebecca were praying [to G‑d for children], they were addressing these two attributes [of divine mercy]. This is why the expression "entreated" is used [instead of the more usual "prayed"]. As our sages say: "Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to a pitchfork? To indicate that just as a pitchfork turns the grain from place to place in the barn, so do the prayers of the righteous turn the mind of the Holy One, blessed be He, from the attribute of judgment to the attribute of mercy." (Sukka 14a )

The root of the word for "entreat" (in Hebrew, "ayin-tav-reish") also means "pitchfork".

Isaac was directing his prayers [to G‑d] via the [thirteenth] mazal, "and He acquits", for from there he [emulating Zeir Anpin] had to direct divine beneficence [in this case, fertility] to his wife.

Rebecca, on the other hand, directed her prayers [to G‑d] via the [eighth] mazal, "storing [chesed]" which is the male of the two.

This was in order to elicit divine mercy upon her husband.

Each one prayed opposite to the other. This is why it says "opposite his wife".

The continuation of this article is: Bread and Salt.

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

Bread and Salt

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

Kabbalah teaches that some aspects of divine sustenance are granted independently of our merits.

The following is a continuation of the first installment, Like the Dew of Mount Hermon, which we suggest the reader review before proceeding. In short, we learned that there are two mazal's (channels of divine flow) in the beard of Arich Anpin, the eighth and the thirteenth. Relative to each other, these mazal's are masculine and feminine, respectively. Isaac directed his prayers to G‑d via the 13th, female rectification, in order to draw divine beneficence to his wife Rebecca, while Rebecca directed her prayers to G‑d via the 8th, male rectification, in order to draw divine beneficence to her husband, Isaac.

An alternative explanation of this phenomenon is as follows:

The word for "opposite" [in Hebrew, "nochach", in the verse "Isaac entreated G‑d opposite his wife, because she was barren" (Gen. 25:21)] is written without a vav [to indicate the "o" vowel], and thus its numerical value is the same as that as the word "mazal" [plus the kolel].

"Nochach" is spelled: nun-kaf-chet = 50 + 20 + 8 = 78.

"Mazal" is spelled: mem-zayin-lamed = 40 + 7 + 30 = 77.

Isaac directed his prayers to G‑d via the thirteenth mazal….

This indicates that Isaac directed his prayers [to G‑d] via the thirteenth mazal, from which his wife needed to receive [divine beneficence in order to conceive].

The Torah uses the verb "he entreated" [instead of "he prayed"] because the letters of its root can be permuted to form the Aramaic word for "hair".

The word for "he entreated" is "vayetar", which is spelled vav-yud-ayin-tav-reish. The verbal root of this word is ayin-tav-reish; when these letters are rearranged as tav-ayin-reish, they form the root of the Aramaic word for "hair", "taara" (spelled tav-ayin-reish-alef). Beard hair, we have seen, is the metaphor used to describe the divine energy that issues from Arich Anpin when its intellect descends into its emotions.

This "hair" refers to the name Ado-nai spelled out, the numerical value of which is the same as that of this word.

"Ado-nai" spelled out is alef-lamed-pei dalet-lamed-tav nun-vav-nun yud-vav-dalet. The numerical value of this is:

(1 + 30 + 80) + (4 + 30 + 400) + (50 + 6 + 50) + (10 + 6 + 4) = 111 + 434 + 106 + 20 = 671.

"Taara" is spelled: tav-ayin-reish-alef = 400 + 70 + 200 + 1 = 671.

This refers to the mazal of "And He Acquits".

The mazal "and He acquits" is the 13th of the 13 Rectifications of the Beard of Arich Anpin, as we have seen. This is the feminine mazal, and is therefore associated with the name Ado-nai, which is associated with malchut or the partzuf of Nukva, the feminine principle.

The alef is missing from the word for "and he entreated" because it is split into two, forming two sets of the letters vav-yud, one present in [the 8th mazal] "Storing", and one present in [the 13th mazal,] "And He Acquits".

The three names Havayah…indicate the divine consciousness of the three sefirot of the mind….

The letter alef can be seen as formed by a diagonal vav, or straight line, together with two small yud's connected to it above and below it. If we further envision the middle, diagonal line splitting into two parallel lines, the alef splits symmetrically along its diagonal into an upper yud-vav and a lower yud-vav. The alef of taara is thus replaced by one yud-vav pair, and we thus have all the letters that spell "vayetar" ("and he entreated"): vav-yud-ayin-tav-reish. We have said that Isaac was praying via the 13th mazal; we now see how the verb describing his act of prayer thus alludes to this.

This is the mystical meaning of the word "and he entreated", which refers to the mazal of "And He Acquits", via which Isaac prayed, as I explained.

Now, there are twelve letters in the spelling-out of the name Ado-nai, which is associated with the mazal of "And He Acquits" [as we have stated]. These correlate to the twelve [letters] that the mazal of "Storing" comprises, as we have seen.

The twelve letters that the mazal of "Storing" comprises are the twelve letters in the three names Havayah that indicate the divine consciousness of the three sefirot of the mind, which manifest as the beard when the intellect descends into the emotions.

Therefore, Rebecca was worthy of giving birth to twelve tribes, but because she said, "what is this [in Hebrew, 'zeh'] for me?" (ibid. 25:22) because of the pain of her pregnancy, and also because Esau destroyed her womb, her son Jacob was privileged to father the twelve tribes [instead of her].

The numerical value of the word for "this" ("zeh", spelled zayin-hei) is 12. So Rebecca's statement can mean, "What do I need the twelve for"?

chanoch adds: We see here the teaching that HaShem evaluates Tzadikim and Tzadekets quite strictly. With this in mind, know that HaShem evaluates each and every human being just with a wider or narrower scale. Therefore be careful with your words. Notice how the words Rivka said is transformed due to the use of gematria also.

With the above in mind, we can understand the Sages' injunction "Eat bread with salt" (Avot 6:4). This statement alludes these two mazal's. The [usual] word for "bread" is "lechem", whose numerical value is the same as that of the three names Havayah [that comprise the masculine mazal "Storing" and] whose numerical value is that of the Aramaic word for "mazal" [used in the Sages' statement regarding "mazal"].

Although the word for bread used in the Sages' statement about eating bread with salt is "pat", the more common word for bread is "lechem".

The divine energy in the beard hairs derives from the intellect….

"Lechem" is spelled: lamed-chet-mem = 30 + 8 + 40 = 78.

The numerical value of the name Havayah is 26. 3 x 26 = 78.

The Aramaic for "mazal", "mazla", is spelled mem-zayin-lamed-alef = 40 + 7 + 30 + 1 = 78.

As we said previously, the divine energy in the beard hairs derives from the intellect, which comprises three sefirot whose divine energy is channeled via three names Havayah.

"Bread" is the general metaphor for food and material sustenance. The Sages state that there are three things in life that are dependent upon mazal: children, health and longevity, and sustenance. (Moed Katan 28a) This statement is in Aramaic, so the word used for "mazal" in it is its Aramaic equivalent, "mazla".

The word for "salt" ["melach"] alludes also to the three names Havayah that comprise the 12 letters present in the [feminine] mazal of "And He Acquits".

The word for "salt", "melach", is a permutation of the word for "bread", "lechem". Its numerical value is therefore also 78.

The union of these two mazal's draws down sustenance.

Sustenance is the "offspring" of the union of the male and female mazal's.

Water refers to the states of chesed, which extend without limit….

[The Sages' statement continues:] "…and drink water with measure." Water refers to the states of chesed, which extend [of themselves] without limit. But "the black candle", i.e. the five states of gevura, limits them.

"The black candle" (in Aramaic, "butzina dekardanuta") is a Zoharic metaphor for the five states of gevura.

They thus said, "drink water with measure," as in the verse "[Do no injustice in judgment, neither] with length, with weights, nor with liquid measure." (Lev. 19:35)

The Hebrew word for "liquid measure", "mesura", is the same as that for "measure" in the Sages' statement about drinking water in measure. The meaning is that chesed must be tempered with gevura in order for its goodness to act effectively in the world.

But bread, which is one of the three things [dependent upon mazal] - i.e. children, health, and sustenance - is not dependent upon one's merit, which is an expression of the states of gevura.

Gevura is the principle of limitation, i.e. the evaluation of whether or not the recipient is worthy of receiving the beneficence of chesed, and to what degree. Thus, the Sages' statement can be seen as a contrast between bread and water. Water is apportioned "in measure", i.e. in accordance with the recipients worth and merits. Bread, however, is not.

This is because the numerical value of the word for merit ["zechut"] is twice that of "gevura", plus the kolel.

The word "zechut" is spelled: zayin-kaf-vav-tav = 7 + 20 + 6 + 400 = 433.

"Gevura" is spelled: gimel-beit-vav-reish-hei = 3 + 2 + 6 + 200 + 5 = 216. 2 x 216 = 432.

These three things [children, health, and sustenance] are needed greatly by the world. They are therefore not dependent on [their recipients'] merits but on the mazals, i.e. the two mazals we have mentioned.

The constant flow of new understanding keeps life from getting boring….

The Sages listed [these three things] in the order they did [children, health, and sustenance] because children are associated with daat, which extends down through the spinal cord, health issues from Imma, for life, i.e. intellect, issues from there, and sustenance issues from Abba. They thus listed them in ascending order.

Marital relations are carnal "knowledge" (daat) as in the verse, "And Adam knew his wife, Eve."

Intellect is the life-force that enlivens reality. People act with enthusiasm and vitality when they understand the value and purpose of what they are doing, and the constant flow of new understanding keeps life from getting boring. Indeed, the zest for life that accompanies intellect is probably a major factor in health and longevity.

Sustenance issues from Abba, for selflessness (bitul), the experience of chochma, is the prerequisite for success in worldly endeavors. In order to receive the divine blessing of success in pursuit of a livelihood, we must dedicate our efforts to G‑d's purpose is making the world into His home and conducting our affairs in accordance with His will, i.e. following the Torah's laws and intentions.

These three are dependent upon the coupling of these two mazal's, for the world depends upon them. Were they to be dependent upon [our merit, as expressed in] the states of gevura, the world would be lost. Other aspects of life, however, which are not so essential, are dependent upon our merit.

Thus, even if our merit is insufficient, we can still pray to G‑d for these three essentials, relying upon His mercy to override our lack of merits.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah and Sefer HaLikutim;

On Guard from Age Thirteen until Twenty

It is not apparent to everyone when the Good Inclination enters the child's consciousness; only G-d is aware of this.

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

"They called him Esau." (Gen. 25:25)

This refers to the Evil Inclination, for with regard to every mention of Esau and Jacob in this passage, Esau is [allegorically] the Evil Inclination and Jacob is the Good Inclination. This is why it is stated, "They called him Esau," for his father and mother realize that [the newborn] has an Evil Inclination.

Only G‑d is aware of the full entrance of the Good Inclination into the child's consciousness….

Both the Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the twins Jacob and Esau serve as metaphors for birth. The first of the twins to be born was Esau, who allegorically refers to the Evil Inclination. The fact that Esau was born first reflects the fact that the Evil Inclination is the first fully-developed consciousness to emerge with the birth of the child.

It is essential that the parents realize this in order for them to approach the child's moral education properly.

The Arizal continues explaining the verse just quoted:

"Afterwards…" - this always means after a long time, in this case, after thirteen years and a day.

There are two words in Hebrew for "afterwards": "achar" and "acharei". There is a difference of opinion in the Midrash over which of these means "immediately afterwards" and which means "a long time afterwards". (Bereishit Rabbah 44:5) The Arizal here adopts the opinion of Rabbi Yudan against that of Rabbi Huna.

"…His brother came out."

This refers to the inclination to do good, which is fully manifest in the child when he or she reaches maturity at the age of thirteen or twelve, respectively.

It is not apparent to everyone when [the Good Inclination] enters [the child's consciousness]. Only G‑d is aware of this. Scripture therefore continues,

"And he named him 'Jacob'," meaning that "He", the one who knows, called him "Jacob".

In contrast to Esau, who was named by both parents ("they called him Esau"), Jacob was named only by his father, Isaac. But the Torah refers to Isaac not by name but just using the pronoun "he", so it may be interpreted allegorically to refer to G‑d ("He"). This reflects the fact that only G‑d is aware of the full entrance of the Good Inclination into the child's consciousness. Indeed, we see no apparent difference in the child's way of thinking from the day before his bar-mitzvah and the day after.

"And the boys grew" - This means that after they grew they became two; until this point they had been one.

"And Esau" - that is, the Evil Inclination - "was a man of the field", loving the affairs of this world. The "field" in this verse refers to This World.

"But Jacob was a sincere man, sitting in the tents", studying the Torah.

"Jacob was cooking some porridge." The "porridge" here refers to the thoughts he always entertained regarding how he could serve his G‑d. The word for "porridge" [in Hebrew, 'nezid'] means "thinking", as in the verse, "…which they planned [in Hebrew, 'zadu'] against them" (Ex. 18:11), understood according to the Aramaic translation: "…they were sentenced to the same affliction that they intended to perpetrate on them." This therefore refers to someone who is always thinking up ways to afflict himself in order to earn the life of the World to Come.

Before the advent of the Chasidic movement, the Kabbalistic conception of righteousness involved afflicting the body in various ways in order to weaken its stranglehold over the person's consciousness. As is well known, the Baal Shem Tov decreed that from his time on, this method of serving G‑d was largely outdated, and that from then on righteousness entails educating the body and focusing it on doing good rather than afflicting it.

One way or another, the Evil Inclination is subdued, since it sees that the person is focused on the World to Come [rather than this world]. This is the meaning of:

"And Esau…" - the Evil Inclination…

"…came in from the field…" - the delights of this world…

"…and was tired" - of all the thoughts of the Good Inclination.

"And Esau…" - the Evil Inclination…

"…said to Jacob" - the Good Inclination…

"'Please stuff me…'" - for you have been afflicting me for days with your good thoughts and fasts, so now, stuff my mouth with all I was deprived of all these days… "'…for I am tired.'"

"Jacob replied, 'Sell me today your birthright…'" - for on the first day the Good Inclination enters the individual's body (when he is thirteen years and one day old) it takes charge by force and the Evil Inclination is subdued before it.

Therefore, "on the eve of the fourteenth, we search for chametz [leavened bread] by the light of a candle." (Pesachim 1:1)

This quote from the Mishnah refers to the search for chametz conducted on the eve of the fourteenth of Nisan. Here, it is interpreted allegorically to refer to the day before a boy's fourteenth year begins, i.e. the day before his thirteenth birthday, when he becomes bar-mitzvah.

The intentions the parents have when conceiving a child determine the nature of the child's spiritual garment….

For on the first day of the [boy's] fourteenth year, [his Good Inclination] enters [his body fully], in the merit of the Torah he learned in his youth - which is called "light", as in the verse, "…and the Torah is light" (Proverbs 6:23) - and in the merit of the commandments he was trained to perform as part of his education, which are called "a candle", as in the [same] verse, "For the commandment is a candle…."

The divine soul and the Good Inclination enter the individual's consciousness gradually, as the parents educate their child in its youth to accept the "yoke of the kingdom of heaven", i.e. to fulfill G‑d's commandments, study His Torah, and adopt the Torah's values. Ideally, by the time a child has reached the age of maturity, he or she has been fully inculcated into the Torah's lifestyle and is ready to accept his or her obligations. The divine soul and Good Inclination can then fully manifest themselves in his or her active consciousness.

In the merit of both of these, "we search for chametz", which is the Evil Inclination, and expel it and subdue it, and his [divine] soul and Good Inclination enter [his body fully].

Now, every person possesses [spiritual] leaven [in Hebrew, "se'or"], which comes from the seminal drop of his father. This is alluded to by the verse, "Behold, I was conceived in sin"(Psalms 51:7); [in which King David meant to say:] "My father Jesse had only his own pleasure in mind [when he conceived me]." (See Shaar HaGilgulim, introduction #38; Yalkut HaMachiri to Psalms 118:28)

Leaven, the agent that causes dough to rise, is a metaphor for the Evil Inclination, the source of ego and haughtiness in a person. (Berachot 17a )

Although Judaism does not believe in Original Sin, we are taught that the intentions the parents have when conceiving a child determine the nature of the child's spiritual "garment," through which he or she experiences life.Tanya, end of ch. 2; quoting the Zohar, Zohar Chadash, Liktuei Torah, and Ta'amei HaMitzvot. The more selfish the parents' intentions, the more spiritual work the child must do in order to refine his or her spiritual perceptions.

Since King David aspired to the highest levels of divine consciousness, he regarded even the slight amount of selfish orientation his righteous father presumably entertained while conceiving him as an obstacle in his spiritual development that he had to overcome.

Chametz, [in contrast,] comes from the mother's seed, and is therefore called "machmetzet" ["fermenting agent"], in the feminine.

During these seven years, a person must be extremely on guard against his Evil Inclination….

The Torah commands us to remove all "leaven" and "fermenting agent" from our possession before Passover.(Ex. 12:15-20) Rashi understands these two terms to be synonymous: leaven is also referred to as "fermenting agent" in order to indicate that even though it is inedible, it is still prohibited to possess it, just as it is prohibited to possess chametz.

All this is expelled, and we eat matzah, which signifies the Good Inclination. We eat matzah, in order to expel the chametz, for seven days, corresponding to the seven years that are left before the person turns 20. At that age, he is judged by the heavenly court.

For certain sins, a person can be tried and punished by an "earthly," i.e. rabbinic, court. For such sins, a person becomes liable for punishment at the age of maturity - 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy.

For other sins, a person cannot be tried and punished by an earthly court but only by the heavenly court. For such sins, he or she becomes liable for punishment only at the age of 20. (See Bamidbar Rabbah 18:4; Midrash Tanchuma, Korach 3)

For during these seven years, a person must be extremely on guard against his Evil Inclination, inasmuch as he had become used to [being ruled by] it until he became thirteen years and one day old. He is therefore [during these seven years] like a sick person who is being healed of his infirmity, who, during the first few days, has to eat only light foods that will not harm him. We are therefore commanded to eat [only] matzah for the seven days of Passover.

[This is what] Rabbi Shimon [bar Yochai] responded to his son, Rabbi Elazar, who asked him if chametz embodies the Evil Inclination and matzah the Good Inclination why we are not prohibited from eating chametz the whole year; the response was that in the days [of Passover], we were like sick people who came out of Egypt, and therefore had to eat [only] matzah. Afterwards, when we were healed and healthy, eating chametz would not harm us. (See Zohar II:40a)

So, too, the young man must be very watchful against the Evil Inclination until he reaches the age of 20.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim and Likutei Torah.

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