In this parasha, Moses complains to G‑d that he cannot lead the people by himself: "I cannot carry all this nation by myself, for it is too heavy for me." (Num. 11:14)
In response, G‑d told Moses, "Gather for Me seventy men of the elders of Israel…and take them to the tent of meeting, and they will present themselves there with you. I shall descend and speak with you, and I will set aside some of the [divine] spirit that is upon you and place it upon them." (ibid. 16-17)

To select the seventy, Moses took six from each tribe, i.e. 72 elders, and placed 72 pieces of paper in a box. On 70 of them were written the word "elder" and two were blank. Each of the 72 elders took a paper from the box; the 70 who selected a paper with the word "elder" became the 70 selected to become Moses' assistants; the other 2 did not. "And G‑d descended in the cloud and spoke to [Moses] and He set aside some of the spirit that was upon him and placed it upon the seventy elderly men. As the spirit descended upon them, they prophesied unceasingly."

Now, there were two men [of the seventy chosen] in the camp who remained [because they felt unworthy of the gift of prophecy]. The name of the first was Eldad and the name of the second was Meidad. They were amongst those who chose ballots [with the word 'elder' on them]. But they did not return to their tents but instead prophesied in the camp [because G‑d gave the gift of prophecy anyway]. So the youth ran to tell Moses, saying, 'Eldad and Meidad are prophesying in the camp!' Joshua ben Nun, the servant of Moses, responded from amongst his youths, and said, 'My master, Moses, stop them!' But Moses said to him, 'Are you jealous on my behalf? Would that all of G‑d's people were prophets because G‑d placed His spirit upon them!'" (ibid. 25-29, as understood by Rashi)

You know that our Sages said, regarding the verse: "Where were you when I established the earth?" (Job 38:4) that all the righteous [of all generations] originate in one or another of the limbs of Adam. (Shemot Rabba 40:3) Eldad and Meidad originated in his two breasts, [the organs] which [in the female] provide milk for the baby.

Therefore, the word for "breast" [in Hebrew, "dad"] is alluded to in both their names. The difference is that one [i.e. Eldad] originated in the right breast, indicated by the letters alef-lamed, and the other [i.e. Meidad] originated from the left breast, indicated by the letters mem-yud.

The names Eldad and Meidad both end with the letters dalet-dalet, which spell "dad", the word for "breast". They differ in their first two letters.

To explain: In general, the female is indicated by the name Elokim.

The name Elokim is thus the channel through which the name Havayah is expressed….

G‑d's "proper" name is the name Havayah, which comes from the verb meaning "to bring into being", and therefore signifies G‑d as Creator, i.e. as the active force that brings reality into being. But, as we know, G‑d's creative force must be constricted in order to allow for creatures conscious of themselves as independent beings, and this constrictive divine force is indicated by the divine name Elokim. The name Elokim is thus the channel through which the name Havayah is expressed. Content and expression, as we have explained previously, are the fundamental properties of male and female, respectively.

In [the female's] three middle [sefirot], the name Elokim is manifest as follows:

The female archetype is, of course, a partzuf comprising ten sefirot. The middle triad of sefirot consists of chesed, gevura, and tiferet.

The [first] two letters of Elokim, alef-lamed, are manifest on the right side, this being the mystical meaning of the verse, "The chesed of G‑d [E-l] is the whole day." (Psalms 52:3) This [manifestation of the name Elokim on the right side] produces [the right breast,] Eldad.

The two letters alef-lamed spell the divine name "E-l", which, as we see from this verse, is associated with the attribute of chesed, which in turn is situated on the right axis of the sefirotic tree.

The [final] two letters of Elokim [in reverse order], mem-yud, are manifest on the left side; this produces [the left breast], Meidad. [This manifestation] is related to bina, which is on the left side and is called "who" [in Hebrew, "mi"], indicating the 50 Gates of Understanding.

Bina is the source of gevura, which is situated opposite chesed, on the left side. According to the Sages, (Rosh HaShanah 21b) there are fifty "gates of understanding" divinity. These are alluded to in the verse "Her husband is known in the gates," (Proverbs 31:23) which is interpreted in the Zohar to mean that G‑d (the Jewish people's "husband") is known "by each person according to the estimation of his heart", since the Hebrew word for "estimation" ("hasha'ara") is related to the word for "gate" ("sha'ar").

The numerical value of the last two letters of the name Elokim, mem-yud, is 40 + 10, or 50. Thus, these two letters allude to the 50 Gates of Understanding. In addition, these two letters spell the word for "who" (in Hebrew, "mi"), which is also seen to allude to bina in the verse, "Lift up your eyes on high, and see who [mi] created all this." (Isaiah 40:26) The numerical value of the word for "all this" ("eileh", spelled alef-lamed-hei = 1 + 30 + 5) is 36, alluding to the 6 sefirot from chesed to yesod inter-included within each other (6 x 6 = 36). The verse thus reads: "…and see that bina is the origin of the six midot."

Bina is also associated with the heart, the seat of understanding….

Also, the Egyptian exile is the constriction of bina, preventing it from giving birth to its natural offspring, the midot. The Hebrew word for "Egypt", "mitzrayim", may be permuted to spell the words for "the constriction of mi" ("metizar mi"), i.e. of bina.

Although we normally associate bina with the left lobe of the brain, let us recall that according to the Zohar, bina is also associated with the heart, the seat of understanding, and the heart tends to the left side of the body. Nonetheless, we would have expected the allusion to be based on gevura rather than bina. Perhaps the preference for bina is an allusion to the Sages' saying that G‑d put the mother's breasts "in the place of bina" (Berachot 10a) i.e. next to the heart.

This leaves the letter hei in the middle, between the alef-lamed and mem-yud of Elokim.

Thus, we see that the name Elokim divides symmetrically, the two letters on the right becoming manifest as the right breast, the two letters on the left being manifest as the left breast, and the middle letter (hei) signifying the middle axis of the sefirot.

It is manifest as the milk channel, situated in the middle between the two breasts spreading out in either direction. It produces two types of milk, one type going to the right breast, and one type going to the left breast.

By and large, women do not menstruate as long as they are nursing. According to the Sages, this is because the woman's menstrual blood is converted to mother's milk during the lactation period. (Bechorot 6b; Nidah 9a) Since blood comes from the heart, in between the two breasts, the "channel" of milk from the heart to the breasts may be conceived of as being in the middle as well.

We will now explain how the letter hei of the name Elokim becomes milk, as we have stated.

Milk that issues from the right breast is sweeter than the milk that issues from the left….

Now, it is known that the milk that issues from the right breast is sweeter than the milk that issues from the left breast, since the former originates in [the side of] chesed. Thus, there are two types of milk, and these must be derived from the letter hei, as we have said.

The explanation is this: there are two aspects of the letter hei; one is its spelling-out and the other is its shape.

Regarding its spelling out, there are three ways to spell out the letter hei: either with a yud, a hei, or an alef, i.e. hei may be spelled either hei-yud, hei-hei, or hei-alef. The mnemonic for these three letters is the [Aramaic] word for "let there be" [yehei].

Yehei: yud-hei-alef.

The combined numerical value of these spellings-out is [31] the same as the numerical value of the name E-l.

hei-yud: 5 + 10 = 15; hei-hei: 5 + 5 = 10; hei-alef: 5 + 1 = 6; 15 + 10 + 6 = 31.

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

If we then add 3 for the three ways of spelling, we have 34. If we then add 5 for the simple numerical value of the letter hei, we have 39. If we add 1 for the kolel of all these aspects together, we have 40, the numerical value of the word for "milk" [in Hebrew, "chalav"].

"Chalav" is spelled chet-lamed-beit = 8 + 30 + 2 = 40. Thus we have seen how the spelling out of the letter hei "produces" milk.

Regarding its form, note that you can picture the letter hei in two ways: as a dalet and a yud or as a dalet and a vav, for the "leg" of the hei can be small, like a yud.

The two connected strokes of the hei form the letter dalet. The left, disconnected "leg" of the hei can been visualized either as a yud or as a vav.

The combined numerical value of these two forms is 24.

dalet-yud = 4 + 10 = 14; dalet-vav = 4 + 6 = 10; 14 + 10 = 24.

If we add to this number the numerical value of the three letters that can be used to spell the letter out, i.e. yud-hei-alef, we have [40] the numerical value of the word for "milk".

24 + yud-hei-alef = 24 + 10 + 5+ 1 = 40. We thus see how the form of the letter hei produces milk.

These are the two aspects of milk that originate from the letter hei of the name Elokim, which is situated between the two breasts, alluded to by the letter-pairs alef-lamed and mem-yud, and that extend [from it] in either direction.

The milk Eldad and Meidad sucked from the world of Atzilut was divine consciousness….

Elsewhere the Arizal states explicitly, "the two prophets, Eldad and Meidad…suckled from the two breasts of the lower feminine archetype, Nukva of Zeir Anpin." (Mevo She'arim 5:2:3) The most obvious connection, then, is that the "milk" Eldad and Meidad sucked from the world of Atzilut was divine consciousness, which manifested itself in them as the inspiration of prophecy.

In addition to this, it is explained in Chasidut (Torah Ohr 55d-56a) that the spiritual/psychological analog to a suckling infant is an individual's newborn divine consciousness he attains after contemplating G‑d's divinity. After contemplating the reality of G‑d, he will feel how this divine awareness fills his being with vitality, energy, and inspiration. But if he is honest, he will also realize that he carries a lot of negative spiritual baggage that frustrates and undermines his ability to derive the full benefit and life power he could from divine consciousness. This will lead him to become angry and upset over his spiritually crippled state, but this anger, once he steps back for a minute and views things a bit more objectively, will give way to a feeling of pity on his divine soul. This pity, in turn, will give way to joy, when he realizes that G‑d is on his side and is fully capable of drawing him into His presence despite his shortcomings, provided he seriously and earnestly desires this.

This joy that follows the shock of the rude awakening is similar to the sweet milk the infant enjoys after the shock of birth. The milk we live off of - in our initial stage of spiritual development, which the Arizal calls "the mentality of nursing" ("mochin d'yenika") - is our joy in the knowledge that G‑d loves us and cares for us, like a nursing mother cares for her child.

This is why G‑d as He relates to the forefathers (i.e. the stage in our development when we are still children) is called E-l Shadai. These two names are usually translated as "G‑d Almighty", but the second name more literally means "my breasts".

In any case, nursing is identified here with joy, and joy is one of the prerequisite conditions for prophecy.

In the Midrash, it is stated that since Eldad and Meidad humbly withdrew from the honor of prophecy, considering themselves unworthy, G‑d declared that "since you diminished yourselves, I will make you greater than all the others." (Sifrei, Beha'alotecha 95) They exceeded the others in five ways: the others only prophesied about the following day, while they prophesied about what would happen in another forty years; the others did not enter the Land of Israel, but they did; the others are not mentioned in the Torah by name, but they are; the others eventually ceased prophesying, for their prophecy was derived from Moses', but they did not stop prophesying, for their prophecy came from G‑d Himself. (Bamidbar Rabba 15:19; Sanhedrin 17a)

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sha'ar HaPesukim and Likutei Torah, parashat Beha'alotecha; 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.