One reason G‑d desires a dwelling place amongst man on earth is that man combines within him the attributes of the creatures in the physical world with the attributes of the creatures in the spiritual world. The fact that man was created in the image of G‑d means that He combines within him all the developments from the highest emanation downwards that form the whole process of Creation.

This concept is evident in man when we look at his parts, i.e. the body, which corresponds to our lower world. Then there is the life-force called Nefesh, which corresponds to the world of the incessantly moving planets, and the Ruach Hachiyuni, the spiritual element in man which corresponds to the world of G‑d's angels, of whom it is said: "He makes the winds ("ruchot", the plural of "ruach") His messengers". (Psalms 104:4)Man, when at this best, is a home fit for the Divine Presence…

Finally, man possesses a Neshama, which corresponds to the region in which the Ineffable Name is at home. In view of all this, it is easy to understand that man, when at this best, is a home fit for the Divine Presence. When man is on that level he cleaves to the mystical dimension of Adam Elyon, the Supernal Man, which is above the Throne, the mystique of dmut v'tzelem, the "likeness and image".

G‑d created these parts of man to correspond to the other parts of the greater universe. Of course, when man is depraved and does not correspond to these lofty ideals we have just outlined, the kelipot will affect him and he will become just an ape with a human face. Whereas Israel is the only nation that qualifies for the title "Adam", meaning "man", depraved man (or better, depraved Israelite) becomes part of the general pool of nations who are not "G‑d's portion". G‑d is on record: "For the Lord's portion is His people, Jacob His own allotment." (Deut. 32:9) The other nations are assigned to the guidance of nature and their respective spiritual representatives called "sarim". The sar of Egypt is the most exalted of these sarim.

We find a strange statement by Avital the Scribe, reported in the name of Rav: "The Pharaoh in Moses' time was one cubit, his beard was one cubit, and his male organ was a cubit plus one zeret" (span between thumb and little finger). (Moed Katan 16) This is in keeping with: "And the lowest of men he will raise over it." (Daniel 4:14) The same Avital went on to say that this Pharaoh was also a magician, because the Torah reports that he would go out to the river Nile in the mornings (Ex. 7:15). This statement certainly demands analysis since we cannot explain it away by simply saying that it is only allegorical. The words of the sages must also be capable of being understood at face value.

Let me explain the reason G‑d created hints or allusions, describing a person in such a form and size. I have already said that man combines within himself elements of all parts of the universe. However, if someone has a face like a human being but acts like an ape, his power extends only within the domain of this physical universe. Afterwards his home would be in the world of the planets [as opposed to above them], since the world of the planets has been assigned by G‑d to the various nations, because its origin is also physical. Beneath that world of the planets you have the domain of the kelipot which spawn ghosts and various kinds of evil spirits. All magic, etc. originates in those spheres. The magicians of Egypt derived their power from these spheres. All of these phenomena have their limitations and set measurements. Israel…enjoys an everlasting relationship with G‑d and is not subject to limitations…

Israel, on the other hand, as a holy nation which cleaves to G‑d enjoys an everlasting relationship with G‑d and is not subject to limitations in size or function. The standard measure when building is the cubit which consists of 6 hands-breaths. When something approaches the end of its "measure," it is reduced to a single cubit. [We have an example of this description when Noah is instructed to build the slanting roof of the ark in Genesis 6:16: "Make it slanted, so that it is one cubit wide on top" Ed.]

Pharaoh's body is described as only one cubit tall, since it symbolized a human being whose only domain is this physical world. The physical universe is perceived as progressively reducing in size until finally it is only a single cubit high. Our sages have described the physical universe as comprising a distance of 500 year's walk. A man presumed to walk an average of 10 Persian Miles daily (45 km.). Every one of those 10 Persian Miles comprises 4 milin, and every one of those milin equals 2000 cubits.

A cubit is presumed to be the length of an average person's step. Just as there are 6 hand-breadths in a cubit, so there were 6 days during the course of which G‑d created the physical universe. This universe is supposed to last for 6000 years. When Avital the scribe referred to the beard of Pharaoh as being one cubit long, he referred to the world of the planets, since their size will also experience reduction to a single cubit, albeit 500 years walk away from earth.

Our sages have described the sky as being such a distance above earth. They have also described the thickness of that world as corresponding to the distance between earth and sky. (Chagigah 13) The same distance exists between each of the seven heavens our Sages speak of as comprising the universe. A cubit comprises 6 hands breaths. The world of the planets comprises 12 zodiacal constellations, six of which are above "earth", whereas six are "below". Avital the scribe alludes to this when he describes the beard. Man's head is the symbol and seat of his brain. In a true human being, the brain is the merkava, the carrier or supporter of the soul. Among the gentile nations, however, it has become the carrier of the kelipot, impurities introduced by the serpent. The beard is symbolic of impulses radiating from the brain…

The beard is symbolic of impulses radiating from the brain. In the case of ape-like man, such radiations are all negative. Pharaoh was closely linked to the world of the planets. The first of the constellations, the zodiac sign of the lamb, a major Egyptian deity, is very high [if we perceive of the 6 constellations arranged in a semi-spherical order starting at the top of the globe]. Here, all the "radiations" originated in that constellation. The hairs of his beard must be understood as the emanations from the world of planets which are subject to a certain size and certain functions. Avital the scribe described this phenomena as Pharaoh's beard being a cubit long.He also described the length of Pharaoh's male member, an allusion to the power of his sar. This is something that can be understood only after a suitable introductory note.

[Translation and commentary by Eliyahu Munk]