In this week's Torah reading, the Torah describes how Isaac re-dug the wells that his father, Abraham had dug. The Philistines had stopped them up. (Gen. 26:15-22)

The [mystical] significance of these wells is as follows: Isaac's "servants" are the states of gevura within Imma, which dig out the vessel of feminine waters in Nukva, making her into a vessel. This is why Isaac exerted himself so much in this digging process.

As we know, the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, personified the three primary emotional attributes, chesed, gevura, and tiferet, respectively. Occasionally, they are associated as well with the intellectual antecedents of these attributes, chochma, bina, and daat, since the three aspects of the intellect exhibit the properties of the emotional attributes that are derived from them.

The states of gevura within Imma, then, are the "servants" of Isaac, i.e. the forces that transmit the gevura in Isaac (i.e. Imma) further. Specifically, what is under discussion here is how they "deflower" the feminine partzuf of Nukva. This is an essential stage in Nukva's development, maturing her into a full-fledged female, capable of arousing the male principle to mate with her and becoming pregnant.

"Feminine waters" is the allegorical term for "arousal from below", the feminine arousal of the male principle.

Now, when Nukva is dug out, she is open, like the hei.

Over-indulgence in the sensuality of this world renders a person spiritually closed….

The word "Nukva" is related to the word for "cavity" ("nekev"), alluding to the idea that the feminine principle must be open to receive the input of the male principle. As we know, the partzuf of Nukva is associated with the final hei of the name Havayah (and even more generally, both hei's of the name Havayah are feminine relative to the masculine yud and vav). The letter hei evinces this quality of openness inasmuch as it is distinguished from the similar letter chet by the opening in its left side.

But when our sins separate [us from G‑d], "the Philistines stopped them up" (ibid. v. 18) and [the hei] becomes a letter chet.

The Philistines personified the attribute of over-indulgence in the sensuality of This World. This is alluded to by their name, which is derived from the root pei-lamed-shin, meaning "breaking through" or "overdoing it".

Over-indulgence in the sensuality of this world renders a person spiritually closed and "clogged up", impervious to divine inspiration and insensitive to the inner reality of life and its experiences. This is graphically represented by the letter chet, in which the open "opening" of the hei has been closed.

This is the mystical meaning of the phrase, "the well that the princes dug" (Num. 21:18). [The "princes"] are the father [Abraham] and son [Isaac].

To truly open a person up to the spiritual life in a lasting way…happens only when we experience…an experience of G‑d's withdrawal of some manifestation of His love….

The verse quoted refers to the Well of Miriam. In the plain meaning of the verse, the "princes" are Moses and Aaron, who restored the well with Moses' stick after it disappeared when Miriam died. Allegorically, the "well" is Nukva, which was "dug", i.e. made into an open vessel, by the forces of chesed and gevura. The forces of chesed do not open the well permanently, as is seen by the fact that after Abraham dug his wells the Philistines were able to stop them up. The experience of divine chesed, the experience of being loved by G‑d, may serve as an initial inspiration, but it is not strong enough to truly open a person up to the spiritual life in a lasting way. This happens only when we experience divine gevura also, an experience of G‑d's withdrawal of some manifestation of His love because of our unworthiness. This lets us know that we have to be serious about our commitment to G‑d's calling.

This is also [gives us] the mystical meaning of the verse "I am disgusted with my life because of the Hittite girls" (Gen. 27:46).

Rebecca said this to Isaac about Esau's wives. It was her reason for sending Jacob away (safe from Esau's wrath after Rebecca and Jacob tricked him out of Isaac's blessings) to her family in Aramea to find a wife.

["My life" alludes to] Isaac, who was the end [in Hebrew, "keitz"] of the "live one" ["chai"], i.e. yesod. ["Hittite" alludes to] the letter chet and the left channel of the [male reproductive organ, associated with] yesod.

The male reproductive organ is called "the live one" because it "comes alive" (i.e. becomes erect). The "end" of the "live one" is the "crown of the yesod" (anatomically, the glans of the organ) that is exposed by circumcision. Circumcision is the sign of the covenant between G‑d and the Jewish people, the pact between them obligating us (and enabling us) to always remain "open" and sensitive to spirituality, just as the circumcised sexual organ renders the husband more sensitive to his wife's experience of relations and not focused solely on his own sensual enjoyment.

Isaac (whose name alludes to this sensitivity) is thus the antithesis of the Philistines. This sensitivity to divinity caused Rebecca, Isaac's feminine side, to be disgusted with Esau's idolatrous wives. The word for "Hittite" is "benot Chet", which can also be understood to mean, "daughters of the letter chet" or "chet-girls", i.e. girls who evince the impenetrability of the letter chet.

In the male, the urethra serves two purposes: it is the path urine follows out of the body from the bladder and the path the semen follows out of the body from the organs in which it is produced. From the perspective of Kabbalah, the opening of the bladder into the urethra is the "left channel" of the reproductive organ and the openings of the ejaculatory ducts into the urethra are its "right channel".

The closing of the hei, making it into a chet, is reflected in the "closing" of the right channel of the reproductive organ, allowing it to serve as the urinary channel.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah and Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Toldot; 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.