Tu Beshevat

The Mystic Fruits of Israel

The Ari explains the mystical roots of Israel's seven holy fruits.

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

"G‑d is bringing you into…a land of wheat, barley, grape-vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of oil-olives and honey." (Deut. 8:7-8)

chanoch adds:Olives and honey are incomplete translation

The fruits for which the Land of Israel is praised in the Torah are given pre-imminence in the Tu B'Shvat Seder of the Kabbalists.

These are the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised. [In other words,] Nukva, which is termed "the Land of Israel", needs to be praised, i.e. blessed from [Zeir Anpin's] seven [lower sefirot].

The phrase "the Land of Israel" means "the land that belongs to Israel": "the land" is an appellation of Nukva d'Zeir Anpin, the mate of Zeir Anpin, one of whose appellations is "Israel".

These are the six [sefirot] that remained above plus her malchut, equaling seven. It thus becomes a male-principle relative to her, as we have explained.

This may be proven by the fact that all types of fruit issue from the earth and are thus not from the male domain but from this feminine domain.

Wheat is from the right axis, that of chochma. As our sages have said, "the unripe version of the supernal chochma is the Torah [we know in this world]," (Bereishit Rabbah 17:7) and the Torah is made up of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, this being the numerical value of the word for "wheat" [in Hebrew, "chita"].

"Chita" is spelled: chet-tet-hei = 8 + 9 + 5 = 22.

Every entity that exists in the realm of holiness has a corresponding entity in evil….

Of the realm of evil, it is said, "Instead of wheat, may nettles grow there." (Job 31:40) The numerical value of the word for "nettles" [in Hebrew, "choch"] is also 22; "G‑d created the one thing opposite the other." (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

"Choch" is spelled: chet-vav-chet = 8 + 6 + 8 = 22.

In general, every entity that exists in the realm of holiness has a corresponding entity in evil. This provides the opportunity for man to have free choice.

Barley is from the left axis. You will find that the numerical value of the word for "barley" [in Hebrew, "se'ora"] is twice that of the combined numerical values of the five final letters plus the unit value [1] for each of the ten letters [of the two sets of final letters] plus five unit-values for each of the five states of gevura.

"Se'ora" is spelled: sin-ayin-reish-hei: 300 + 70 + 200 + 5 = 575.

Hei, the second letter of the name Havayah, signifies the sefira of bina, the top of the left axis of the sefirot. Directly under bina is gevura, signifying restraint or withholding. Similarly, the final forms of the letters indicate a stopping of the flow of speech. The five letters with final forms are kaf, mem, nun, tzadik, and pei.

Kaf-mem-nun-tzadik-pei: 20 + 40 + 50 + 90 + 80 = 280; 280 x 2 = 560; 560 + 10 + 5 = 575.

The additional 10 comes from a Colel attached to the final letter forms plus the regular letter forms of the final letters. The additional 5 is a colel associated with the 5 Gevurot that reside in Yesod yet are sourced in the 5 sefirot – Chesed Gevurah Tiferet Netzach and Hod.

For this reason, the suspected adulteress brings a barley-offering, for barley embodies the power of gevura.

The suspected adulteress (sotah) is brought to the Temple to submit to a rite of judgment.

The ink of judgment originates in this inkwell, which [G‑d] uses to mark all [the righteous of] humanity….

The archangel Gabriel also derives from this aspect of spirituality; therefore he has "the inkwell of the scribe at his waist" (Ezekiel 9:2, 3). The numerical value of the word for "inkwell" [in Hebrew, "keset"] is also twice that of the combined numerical values of the final letters. The ink of judgment originates in this inkwell, which [G‑d] uses to mark all [the righteous of] humanity, as it is written, "And you shall draw a line [on the foreheads of the men…]." (ibid. 9:4)

chanoch adds: Ezekiel 9:4 is being mistranslated in the above paragraph. והתוית תו is translated as “mark” while it is better translated as “label notes”.

These verses are taken from a vision in which the prophet Ezekiel is shown how G‑d plans to destroy Jerusalem. Delivering the consequence of sin is certainly an act of gevura, and is therefore executed by the archangel Gabriel. However, G‑d also tells Gabriel to use the ink to "mark a sign on the foreheads of the men who sigh and moan for all the abominations done within [the city]" and not to "approach any man upon whom is the sign." Thus, the ink-sign is also evinces gevura, here in the sense of "restraint" of the execution of G‑d's wrath.

"Keset" is spelled: kuf-samech-tav = 100 + 60 + 400 = 560.

Also, of the time when evil is ascendant it is written, "Instead of barley, may stinkweed grow." This is the principle of the name Elokim spelled out with the letter yud plus unit-value for the eight letters of the spelling-out.

The name Elokim signifies G‑d's attribute of judgment. When the name Elokim is spelled out using a yud to spell out the hei, we have:

alef - alef = 1 – lamed = 30 – pei = 80

lamed - lamed = 30 – mem = 40 – dalet = 4

hei - hei = 5 – yud = 10

yud - yud = 10 – vav = 6 – dalet = 4

mem - mem = 40 – mem = 40

total = 300

There are eight letters used to spell out the name itself; these are indicated in bold in the above list.

The numerical value of the word for "stinkweed" [bashah] is beit-alef-shin-hei: 2 + 1 + 300 + 5 = 308. "Stinkweed" is thus the opposite for barley in the realm of evil, signifying gevura of evil.

The grape vine originates in the middle axis….

The grape vine [originates] in the middle axis, between the right and the left. The word for "vine" [in Hebrew, "gefen"] alludes to the numerical values of the spellings-out of the four ways of spelling out the name Havayah [46, 37, 19, 26], 128, plus the 4 letters of the name itself and the kolel.

"Gefen" is spelled: gimel-pei-nun = 3 + 80 + 50 = 133.

As we have seen previously, there are four standard ways of spelling out the name Havayah, giving numerical values of 72, 63, 45, and 52. The total of these four values is 232. To consider only the numerical value of the letters used in the spelling-out process, we simply subtract 4 times the value of the name itself, 26. 4 x 26 = 104; 232 - 104 = 128. When we add 4 unit values (4 x 1) for the four letters of the name plus the kolel, we have 128 + 4 + 1 = 133, the numerical value of "gefen". This demonstrates the association between the grape and the name Havayah, which is the channel for tiferet, the central sefira on the middle axis.

chanoch adds: The term 4 unit values is a colel for each letter. The fifth colel is for the word as a whole. These are all acceptable methods of gematria. There is a caution taught with these methods. One must be able to verify that there is a link between a letter and / or a word to some level higher. This is not just made up by a human being but verified through meditative techniques.

[These three] are the mental states that enter Zeir Anpin from chochma-bina-daat, and Zeir Anpin imparts some of their energy to malchut.

Wheat and barley were associated above explicitly with chochma and bina. While the grape was not explicitly associated with daat, it was demonstrated that it relates to the central axis, on which daat is situated, directly above tiferet.

However, there are differing levels of how he imparts them to her. When she is situated [entirely] below him, he gives them to her in one way; when she is level with his netzach-hod-yesod, he gives them to her in a superior way; when she is level with his chesed-gevura-tiferet, he gives them to her in a yet more subtle way; and when she becomes the crown of his head, she receives them on a par with him.

chanoch adds: The above paragraph is one ofnthe most important teachings in Kabbalah. The Sefirot move relative to the other Sefirot. Learn it well. Learn the rules of movement of the Sefirot

We have described the union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva to be necessary in order to preserve the balance of consciousness between abstract inspiration and active inspiration, between the desire to leave the world and become absorbed in divine consciousness and the desire to make the world into a fitting setting for divine consciousness to flourish. These are the male and female aspects of consciousness (of both men and women), respectively. The male must couple with the female in order to be properly oriented toward the purpose of life, while the female must couple with the male in order to preserve her perspective and not fall prey to the forces of non-divine-consciousness ("evil"). These couplings can occur on various levels, depending on the mental state of Nukva.

The Sages said that in the [messianic] future, "The righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads" (Berachot 17a). Know that on the Shabbat, when Zeir Anpin ascends to the level of Abba and Imma, only its inner dimension ascends, whereas its outer garment remains below [at its normal level of consciousness]. [Nukva] then ascends to be level with his inner dimension, becoming a crown over the head of his garment, which remained below in its [usual] place. It is then that she receives all these spellings-out [of the name Havayah] on par with him.

The ideal state, of course, is for Nukva to be fully matured, postured as the crown of Zeir Anpin, receiving insight and inspiration on par with him. This state will be fully realized only in the messianic future, when the task of elevating and refining the world into a home for G‑d will have been accomplished and it will no longer be necessary for Nukva to descend into contracted states of consciousness in order to elevate the lower realms of reality on/from their level.

The Shabbat is a taste of the World to Come, and therefore this state is semi-realized on the Shabbat.

The fig takes [its consciousness] from netzach. This is the principle of the three spellings out of the name Eh-yeh, giving numerical values of 161, 151, and 143.

Eh-yeh spelled with the letter yud

alef – alef = 1 – lamed = 30 – pei = 80

hei - hei = 5 – yud = 10

yudyud = 10 – vav = 6 – dalet = 4

hei - hei = 5 – yud = 10

Total = 161

Eh-yeh spelled with the letter hei

alef – alef = 1 – lamed = 30 – pei = 80

hei - hei = 5 – hei = 5

yudyud = 10 – vav = 6 – dalet = 4

hei - hei = 5 – hei = 5

Total = 151

Eh-yeh spelled with the letter alef

alef – alef = 1 – lamed = 30 – pei = 80

hei - hei = 5 – alef = 1

yudyud = 10 – vav = 6 – dalet = 4

hei - hei = 5 – alef = 1

Total = 143

The sum of these three values plus the kolel gives 456, the numerical value of the word for "fig" [in Hebrew, "te'eina"].

161 + 151 + 143 + 1 = 456.

"Te'eina" is spelled: taf-alef-nun-hei = 400 + 1 + 50 + 5 = 456.

These [iterations of the name Eh-yeh] are the mental states of Imma that enter Zeir Anpin, included in which are the mental states of Abba, which are [three] names Havayah. It is thus written, "He who guards the fig will eat its fruit." (Proverbs 27:18) "He who guards the fig" refers to the mentality of Imma; "…will eat its fruit" refers to the mentality of Abba.

The Arizal now shows how the phrase "will eat its fruit" refers to the mentality of Abba.

[The mental states of Abba] are, numerically, three times 72, which equals 216.

As we have noted previously, of the four ways of spelling out the name Havayah, that whose numerical value is 72 is associated with chochma, the partzuf of Abba, and the yud of the name Havayah itself. Three such names Havayah give 3 x 72 = 216.

The combined numerical values of the original names Havayah themselves are 78. When to these is added the kolel, the sum is 295, the numerical value of the word for "its fruit" [in Hebrew, "pirya"].

3 x 26 = 78.

216 + 72 + 1 = 295.

"Pirya" is spelled: pei-reish-yud-hei = 80 + 200 + 10 + 5 = 295.

The reason why all this is associated with netzach is because anatomically, netzach and hod are associated with the two male testicles in which the male seed develops, the male-male seed in the right [testicle] and the female-male seed in the left [testicle].

We see that the sperm that develop in the right and left testicles are, relative to each other, "male" and "female".

The pomegranate originates in hod….

This is the meaning of the statement in the Zohar: "He is in netzach and she is in hod" (Shaar Erkei HaKinuyim, Chanukah 1; Mevo She'arim 3:1:2, 5:1:1) […]

The pomegranate originates in hod, and thus numerical value of the word for pomegranate ["rimon", plus the kolel] is the same as that of the angel Nuriel.

"Rimon" is spelled: reish-mem-vav-nun = 200 + 40 + 6 + 50 = 296; 296 + 1 = 297.

"Nuriel" is spelled: nun-vav-reish-yud-alef-lamed = 50 + 6 + 200 + 10 + 1 + 30 = 297.

This word ["rimon"] is also the same as the name of the angel Meta‑tron when we remove the two letters tet in its middle - these being the numerical value of "alive" [in Hebrew, "chai"], referring to the inner life-force of the pomegranate - leaving a mem to the right and reish-vav-nun to the left.

"Meta‑tron" is spelled mem-tet-tet-reish-vav-nun. Thus, it can be seen that removing the two tet's in the middle leaves the letters that are used to spell "rimon". The mem is to the right, etc., since Hebrew is read right to left.

tet-tet = 9 + 9 = 18; chai: chet-yud = 8 + 10 = 18.

These [remaining letters that spell "rimon"] are the outer shell that we call the pomegranate, while the inner [life-force] is the sefira of tiferet. This is alluded to in the verse "lest he eat it and live forever" (Gen. 3:23, referring to the fruit of the Tree of Life). And so it is said of Rabbi Meir: "He ate its core and discarded its shell." (Chagigah 15b1) The forces of evil cannot suckle from the inner life force, but they can suckle from the garment, i.e. the pomegranate.

chanoch adds: The inner core of the pomegranate, tradition holds consists of 613 seeds. This is the beginning of wisdom – chochmah.

In this way we may also understand the mystical meaning of the verse "And the [angelic] beasts were running and returning" (Ezekiel 1:14). The numerical value of the word for "running" [in Hebrew, "ratzo", plus the kolel] is the same as that of the word "rimon".

"Ratzo" is spelled: reish-tzadik-vav-alef = 200 + 90 + 6 + 1 = 297.

The word for "running" ["ratzo"] may also be permuted to spell the word for "neck" ["tzavar"].

"Tzavar" is spelled: tzadik-vav-alef-reish.

This refers to the neck of Imma, i.e. her throat; Imma extends as far as hod.

The inner life force [in contrast] refers to the words "and returning", inasmuch as the numerical value of the name "Sha-dai" [314] is the same as that of this phrase "and returning". […]

In Hebrew, the phrase "and returning" is one word: "veshov", spelled vav-shin-vav-beit = 6 + 300 + 6 + 2 = 314.

"Sha-dai" is spelled: shin-dalet-yud = 300 + 4 + 10 = 314.

In any case, "running" is associated with the pomegranate, the shell, while "returning" is associated with the inner life force.

…. Olives originate in yesod

Oil-olives originate in yesod. [Since yesod is a relatively "male" sefira,] we may ponder why the verse does not read simply "a land of honey?"

As we know, "land" is feminine, an appellation for malchut. And honey, as we shall see presently, is also associated with malchut. It thus seems inappropriate that the word for "land" should be repeated just before a masculine-associated modifier.

Know then, that yesod never separates from her [i.e. malchut], and is embodied in the upper tip of the dalet. Of it, it is written, "Better a close neighbor than a far brother." (Proverbs 26:10) "A close neighbor" refers to yesod, which receives the 370 lights corresponding to the numerical value of "neighbor" [in Hebrew, "shachen"]. It remains close to her and does not part from her.

"Shachen" is spelled: shin-kaf-nun = 300 + 20 + 50 = 370.

The "far brother" refers to tiferet, which is occasionally distant [from malchut], as opposed to the neighbor, [yesod,] who is always close.

He [i.e. Zeir Anpin] therefore possesses the facial beauty accompanying the beard, for all facial beauty depends on [the purity] of this limb [i.e. that of yesod, the reproductive organ], because it is the receptor of the 370 lights that shine on the face.

This is alluded to in the verse, "And Joseph had beautiful features and a beautiful face." (Gen. 39:6)

Joseph is associated with the sefira of yesod, and successfully resisted sexual temptation.

The reason why the Torah says, "…of oil-olives and honey" instead of simply "…of oil and honey" is because, according to the Zohar, (II:92a) the divine names that issue from the letters yud-hei-vav are Elokim, E-l, and mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik. The combined numerical value of these names is the same as that of the word for "olive" [in Hebrew, "zayit"].

Mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik is the name Havayah permuted through the system known as Atbash, in which the first letter of the alef-bet (alef) is replaced with the last letter (tav), the second letter (beit) with the second-to-last letter (shin), and so on.

chanoch adds: The at-bash method is considered central column.

"Elokim" is spelled: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86.

"E-l" is spelled: alef-lamed = 1 + 30 = 31.

Mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik = 40 + 90 + 80 + 90 = 300.

86 + 31 + 300 = 417.

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

The word for "oil" [in Hebrew, "shemen"], when permuted in Atbash, becomes beit-yud-tet, the same numerical value as the letters yud-hei-vav. The name yud-hei-vav is associated with the sefira of yesod. […]

Beit-yud-tet = 2 + 10 + 9 = 21.

Yud-hei-vav = 10 + 5 + 6 = 21.

[Date-]honey [in Hebrew, "devash"] derives from malchut, and is the shin-vav of "shofar", its malchut.

"Devash" is spelled: dalet-beit-shin = 4 + 2 + 300 = 306.

"Shofar" is spelled shin-vav-pei-reish. Shin-vav: 300 + 6 = 306.

Thus, malchut, which must descend into the world of Beriya, is blessed from these seven [fruits].

Adapted by Moshe Yakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim and Likutei Torah, parashat Ekev