The following commentary by the Ari follows that of the previous Torah portion.

The meaning of the phrase: "according to their families and their fathers' houses" (Num. 4:22) is as follows: From the five states of gevura, two female partzufim are constructed, i.e. Leah and Rachel. As is known, the female partzufim are constructed wholly out of states of gevura. ...thought and speech...respectively are the two female partzufim of Leah and Rachel…

The female is the essence of expression, and the two principal forms of expression are thought and speech, which respectively are the two female partzufim of Leah and Rachel, the two wives of Jacob, who personifies Zeir Anpin.

The first to be built is Leah, who is called "their fathers' house". This is because [our Sages] call "woman" the "home". Leah is the higher [of the two houses] since she absorbs [443] lights, this number being the numerical value of the word for "their fathers" when written without the vav.

The word for "fathers" (in Hebrew, "avot") is generally written alef-beit-vav-tav, but it may be written without the vav as well, since the vav in this case plays the role of a vowel (the cholam) that can be also written as a diacritical mark, like the other vowels. This is, in fact, how the word is written throughout the portion of the Torah we are discussing.

Since "fathers" come conceptually before "families", "their fathers' house" is the higher of the two levels. The number 443 here will be contrasted with a smaller number, 370, associated with Rachel.

These lights are the same as those of the four alef's in the four divine names Eh-yeh [alef-hei-yud-hei], whose numerical value is 444, the same as that of the word for "their fathers" with the kolel.

When the letter alef is spelled out (alef-pei-lamed), its value becomes (1 + 80 + 30 = ) 111. 4 x 111 = 444. The divine name Eh-yeh ("I shall be") is associated in Kabbala with the sefirot of keter and bina. Specifically, the netzach-hod-yesod of Imma (the partzuf of bina) are expressed by four iterations of the name Eh-yeh. The intellect of Nukva is derived from the alefs of these four names. (Sha'ar HaPesukim on Psalms 39:5; Sha'ar HaKavanot, Keriat Shema 6)

As I have explained elsewhere, this is alluded to in the verse: "Make known to me, O G‑d, my end, and what is the measure of my days". (Psalms 39:5) The word for "my end" refers to [the partzuf of] Rachel, while the word for "the measure of" [in Hebrew, "midat", spelled mem-dalet-tav, whose numerical value is 444] refers to Leah.

The word for the phrase "according to their families" [in Hebrew, "le-mishpachotam"] refers to Rachel. The reason for this is as follows: We may divide this word in two, lamed-mem-shin and pei-chet-vav-tav-mem. [The partzuf of] Rachel comprises ten [sub-] sefirot, and each sefira possesses one divine name Havayah, spelled out in such a way that its numerical value is 52.

When the divine name Havayah is spelled out yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei, its numerical value is 52. This is one of the four basic ways the name Havayah may be spelled out. Each of the four spellings of the name Havayah is associated with one of the four basic sefira-groups (72 with chochma, 63 with bina, 45 with the midot, and 52 with malchut).

This is alluded to in the verse: "I am not better to you than ten sons?" (Samuel I 1:8)

The numerical value of the word for "son" [in Hebrew, "ben", beit-nun] is 52. The ten sons in this verse allude to the ten spellings-out of the name Havayah in the ten sub-sefirot of the partzuf Rachel.

[The numerical value of all these names together,] 10 x 52 = 520. If we add the kolel of each of the ten names Havayah, this gives an additional 10, giving us a total of 530. If we add to this the number 5, signifying the five states of chesed together with the five states of gevura, this gives 535. Alternatively, we can add to 530 the female [partzuf], represented by the final letter hei of the name Havayah [and whose numerical value is 5]; this also gives us a total of 535.

This number is the numerical value of [the second set of letters into which we divided the word for "according to their families,"] pei-chet-vav-tav-mem, together with the kolel. Thus, this number represents [the partzuf] of Rachel.

The number of lights that she absorbs is 370, which is the numerical value of [the first set of letters into which we divided the word for "according to their families,"] lamed-mem-shin.

With regards to these 370 lights, it is known that there are 370 lights that shine from the upper face of Zeir Anpin, as is explained elsewhere. It is explained there that they spread out in a straight, descending line until they reach the yesod of Zeir Anpin. This phenomenon is called "peace" [in Hebrew, "shalom"].

The 370 lights originate in the partzuf of Arich Anpin. (Etz Chaim 13:13-14; Zohar 1:4b) The number 370 is derived by various ways, the simplest being based on the general process of inter-inclusion of the sefirot. The three intellect-sefirot of Arich Anpin undergo a tenfold iteration twice, thus giving a total of one hundred for each sefira and a total of 300 for the intellect as a whole. The seven emotion-sefirot, in contrast, undergo only one tenfold iteration; this gives 7 x 10, or 70. The sum of the iteration of all ten sefirot is thus 370.

These 370 lights are said to shine out of the face of Arich Anpin, and in so doing manifest tremendous good will and mercy. Even in everyday parlance, when someone is in an especially happy mood we speak of his face "lighting up". Arich Anpin is the partzuf of the super-rational will, so when "light" or positive energy emanates from its "face", G‑d's good will is manifest in Creation. Abstract intellect that does not produce an emotional response is not worth much…

When these 370 lights reach Zeir Anpin, they shine in it as well, and thus the emotions are "lit up" by the will. As we have explained previously, Zeir Anpin is the main partzuf of any particular world, which simply means that the measure of man is his emotions. This is why the emotions are called in Hebrew "middot" (literally, "measures"). Man's intellect is, of course, his distinguishing human factor, but abstract intellect that does not produce an emotional response is not worth much. Similarly, he may possess all kinds of good intentions and wills, but these become actualized only beginning with emotions (which in turn serve as the motivation for action).

The emotions (chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, and hod) all coalesce in yesod, the sefira of sexuality. Sexuality is the drive to connect with the world and affect it; to reproduce one's image and imprint on reality. The most profound and physical manifestation of this drive is, of course, the drive to have children and perpetuate oneself and his ideals for posterity. But in essence, any interactions between the person and the world outside him (including interactions with any other creature) are "sexual" in that in the interaction he seeks to leave his imprint on reality in some way.

If everything is working right, and the 370 lights of Arich Anpin are shining into Zeir Anpin, and they affect all the emotions including yesod, it means that the person's sexuality is holy and in consonance with the positive energy and "good will" informing his whole being. This phenomenon is called "peace" - the individual is not torn between what he knows his higher ideals should be and the negative egocentricity his un-rectified sexuality pulls him toward, but rather his sexuality is a pure expression of the highest, positive, wholesome, creative energy possible.

This is because the sefira of yesod is represented by a small vav [whose numerical value is 6], and when the 370 lights descend to it, they add up to 376, the numerical value of "peace" [in Hebrew, "shalom", spelled shin-lamed-vav-mem].

The vav represents yesod since it is the final of the six emotions. Also, the straight-line form of the vav evokes the image of the 370 lights shining in Zeir Anpin, descending along a straight path into yesod.

The concept of "peace" is associated with the sefira of yesod - in addition to the reasons cited above - because the word "shalom" is related to the Hebrew word for "perfection" ("sheleimut"). A person whose sexuality is warped is considered "blemished", while one whose sexuality is on track is considered "complete". This idea is closely allied, obviously, with the relationship between yesod and "peace" mentioned previously.

As you know, all these [370] lights are states of chesed, and that is why they descend to yesod.

In the process the 370 lights shining from the face of Arich Anpin into Zeir Anpin, they shine from the two "cheeks" of the face, the shining skin where there is no beard-hair. One way the number 370 is derived is that the two beams of light from the cheeks are each a manifestation of the divine name E-l (spelled alef-lamed), as this name is "filled in":

letter filling value






















185 x 2 = 370. The inner dimension of chesed is love, and the real manifestation of love, of course, is in the person's sexuality, or yesod.

This is also why "Joseph was of beautiful form and beautiful appearance", (Gen. 39:6) from the glow of these 370 lights.

Joseph personified the attribute and sefira of yesod. He thus reflected the light that shines into this sefira from the face of Zeir Anpin. The glory of the face is the beard…

This is also the mystical reason why our Sages say, "the glory of the face is the beard" (Shabbat 152a), for someone who possesses the attribute of yesod, the attribute of Joseph, has a beard and the glory of the face, which is, as we said, these 370 lights.

On the verse, "And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him" (Gen. 42:8), Rashi explains that this was because when they had seen each other last, the brothers already had beards, but Joseph had not grown his yet; but by this time, his beard had grown. Thus, the beard plays a key role in the drama surrounding Joseph.

A eunuch, in contrast, lacking the attribute of yesod, lacks the glory of the face, i.e. the beard.

The biological reason why a person without a procreative organ doesn't grow a beard is, of course, because without sexual hormones his "secondary sexual characteristics" (e.g. a beard), will not appear. The mystical reason for this, however, is that without a vehicle for expressing his sexuality, which, as we said, is his drive to impress his unique expression of divinity on Creation, the person will lack the "glory of his face" - there will be no reason for the 370 lights to emanate from him.

Once these [370] lights reach Joseph - i.e. yesod [of Zeir Anpin] - they pass through his back to [the partzuf] Rachel, which is situated there. This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "Rachel was of beautiful form and beautiful appearance", (Ibid. 29:17) [i.e. she received the attributes of Joseph], whereas Leah, the higher partzuf is not referred to as being beautiful.

As explained in Chasidut, Leah and Rachel signify the two principal vehicles of expression (i.e. of malchut): thought and speech, respectively. The difference between these is that thought is chiefly inwardly directed (i.e. it is a means of expressing one's ideas to oneself) while speech is outwardly directed (one talks to others). This is the mystical reason why Jacob preferred Rachel to Leah: he sensed that she personified speech, which is a more effective way of making one's imprint on reality than is thought, and therefore was driven to channel his sexual/creative energy specifically through her. This also why, despite the fact that thought (Leah) is a higher revelatory experience to the thinker than speech is to the speaker, only Rachel is described as being beautiful. The glow of beauty is the reflection of the glow of the 370 lights of good will, optimism, and purity, and these are fully manifest only when they flow into full expression.

It appears to me that this is the mystical significance of the verse: "And then Joseph and Rachel approached and bowed down." (Ibid. 33:7) Rachel was behind Joseph.

When Jacob introduced his family to his brother Esau, the Torah says that first the handmaids and their children approached Esau and bowed down to him, then Leah and her children, and finally Joseph and Rachel. Since in the case of the handmaids and Leah, the mothers are mentioned first and then the children, this indicates that the mothers were in front of their children when they bowed down. In the case of Rachel and Joseph, however, Joseph moved in front of Rachel, in order to hide his mother's beauty from the wicked Esau.

Thus, we see that Rachel is positioned behind Joseph. This would explain why, in this sense, Rachel "receives" her beauty from Joseph, even though in the plain sense, obviously, the order was the other way around: Joseph inherited his beauty from his mother.

The sons of Merari also manifest the five states of gevura

The sons of Merari also manifest the five states of gevura, but they manifest the five states of gevura of the "feminine waters" that exist in the yesod of Nukva. This is why they are called "Merari", meaning "bitter", referring to the states of severe judgment they comprise. For they are the lowest states of gevura in [Nukva].

Thus, the numerical value of "Merari" [spelled mem-reish-reish-yud] is 450, which is 5 x 90, the numerical value of the word for "water" [mayim, mem-yud-mem], referring to the five states of gevura, each one of which is a type of "feminine water".

It is for this reason that when G‑d commands Moses to count them, He does not use the idiom "lifting up their head", but simply says: "The sons of Merari, number them…." They manifest the hardest and most bitter states of gevura in the yesod of [Nukva] that do not ascend. For were they to ascend, they would make the higher states of gevura bitter.

As we said above, only the descending states of gevura (corresponding to the clan of Gershon) rebound when they hit yesod of Nukva. The third, and lowest set of the states of gevura, does not rebound.

In reference to the sons of Gershon, however, who [manifest the states of gevura] which spread throughout her body, the idiom "lifting up their head" is used.

I do not recall the mystical significance of the sons of Kehot, but it seems to me, Chaim [Vital], that they manifest the five states of gevura in the daat of Nukva. This would explain why the sons of Kehot are on a higher level than the sons of Gershon.

This is a logical assumption, for of the three sub-categories of the first category mentioned at the beginning of this passage, two have already been assigned, and only the highest sub-category remains for the clan of Kehot.

The job of the Kehot clan is explained first (at the end of parashat Bamidbar), before those of the clans of Gershon and Merari (at the beginning of parashat Naso). Furthermore, the Kehot clan's job is to pack and unpack the actual vessels of the Tabernacle (the ark, the menorah, the two altars, and the table), referred to as "the Holiest of Holy", while the other clans are to pack and unpack the boards and curtains that comprise the Tabernacle structure and the curtains surrounding the Tabernacle compound.

Now, in the directive to count the sons of Gershon, the expression "according to their fathers' houses and their families" is used, while in the directive to count the sons of Kehot and Merari, this expression is reversed. This is because the sons of Gershon manifest the states of gevura that descend and re-ascend, as we have explained. Their light is not noticeable until they have ascended; their light thus may be considered to shine only after they have ascended.

Therefore, their light reaches first [the partzuf] Leah, who is called "their fathers' house", and only afterwards reaches [the partzuf] Rachel, who is called "their families". This is not the case with the sons of Kehot and Merari [and consequently, the order for them is reversed].

Sons of Kehot

the five states of gevura
in daat of Nukva
"according to their families
and their fathers' houses"

Sons of Gershon

the five states of gevura that
spread through the body of Nukva

"according to their fathers'
houses and their families"

Sons of Merari

the five states of gevura in yesod of Nukva, the "feminine waters" "according to their families
and their fathers' houses"

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

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.