In the beginning of the portion of the Torah read this week, Isaac and Rebecca pray for children:

Isaac entreated G‑d opposite his wife, because she was barren. (Gen. 25:21)

When G‑d's infinite light descends, it becomes manifest in Atika, that is, in Arich Anpin. [Arich Anpin extends throughout] the entire measure of Atzilut; the other [partzufim] enclothe Arich Anpin [to various extents].

Atika means "the ancient one" or "primordial one." The partzuf that develops from the inner dimension of keter is called Atik Yomin, but the term Atika Kadisha ("Holy Ancient One") or just Atika ("Ancient One") refers to the partzuf that develops from the outer dimension of keter, Arich Anpin. Joseph…is called "morning", for light issues from him…

Arich Anpin is synonymous with the will. G‑d's will to manifest at any particular level is what is responsible for the existence of that level of revelation, i.e., that world. Thus, the will permeates the entire world that develops out of it, and is the inner force driving all the other manifestations of His powers (i.e., partzufim) at that level.

It follows that when this light wishes to extend into Beriya, [we would imagine that it would issue from] the feet of Arich Anpin, since they reach this far. But this is impossible, for his feet are blocked there, and the light cannot issue forth.

The "feet" - or malchut - are the lowest level of the partzuf of Arich Anpin, so we would assume that they embody the lowest intensity of will in the world of Atzilut, which would be appropriate to create the world of Beriya. We see, however, that there is no orifice in the feet for any type of "light" to issue through. This is basically because the feet, existing as they do at the lowest level, must be insulated in order to prevent any unwarranted flow of divine light to the powers of evil.

Rather, the light issues forth from yesod [of Arich Anpin], which is situated above, between the thighs. From there it issues to Zeir Anpin, which enclothes it. When the light issues from the yesod of Arich Anpin, it is opposite the daat of Zeir Anpin.

The light that issues from Arich Anpin in order to eventually create the next world, that of Beriya, issues from its yesod. As we have explained previously, yesod is the drive toward actualization of any particular partzuf.

The other partzufim of Atzilut are smaller than Arich Anpin and enclothe only various segments of it. For example, Abba and Imma enclothe the chesed-gevura-tiferet of Arich Anpin; Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin from the lower third of its tiferet down to its malchut, and so on. Here we see that the daat of Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin opposite its yesod. This simply means that the drive within Arich Anpin for self-actualization becomes the daat - or subjective knowledge - of the partzuf of emotion.

The light that issues from yesod is called "morning", as it is written, "the morning was light." (Ibid. 44:3) [Yesod] is synonymous with Joseph, who is [also] called "morning", for light issues from him.

The phrase "the morning was light" occurs in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Due to his sexual purity, Joseph is associated with the sefira of yesod.

Now, the light that issues from the beard, via the hairs, is called mazal, because it "flows" drop by drop. A mazal is a spiritual conduit of divine life-force…

The word "mazal" in Hebrew is derived from the root letters nun-zayin-lamed, which spell the Hebrew word meaning "to flow". A mazal is a spiritual conduit of divine life-force, which flows from it to some other level.

To explain: The light of the Infinite One [first] becomes manifest in the head of Arich Anpin, in which are situated the brains. When it then seeks to be manifest [further down] through the throat, which is narrow, the light bursts forth [through the skin] as hair. This is the origin of the beard.

The transformation of divine consciousness from the mental to the emotional state is a drastic change, and involves a tzimtzum, or contraction, of the light. This is the spiritual mechanics behind the anatomical phenomenon of the neck being such a narrow connection between the head and the torso. Despite this contraction, the light descending from the mental faculties is still too intense to be completely funneled through the passageway of the neck/throat, and therefore, the residual aspects of it exude through the pores of the skin as the beard.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "[the sound of] the mighty/adirim [waters] that break the sea." (Ps. 93:4) These [waters] are from the hairs, as in the expression "he was entirely [covered] with a cloak/aderet of hair." (Gen. 25:25) When the vessel is pierced and the light issues forth as a hair, this is the cloak.

The word "adir" carries both the meaning of "mighty" and that of a magnificent "cloak" or "mantle", as a symbol of royalty and power.

Hair is like the letter vav, and the light within it is like the letter yud, which depicts the point of light within it.

The form of the letter vav represents an elongated channel, similar to a hair. The form of the letter yud symbolizes the particle of light that issues via the hair.

The beard of Arich Anpin extends down to its navel, which is opposite the head of Zeir Anpin. The light that manifests and pierces via the beard originates in the three brains…

The navel demarcates the division of the torso into its upper two thirds and its lower third. The top-most part of the head of Zeir Anpin enclothes Arich Anpin from this point, the lower third of tiferet of Arich Anpin.

[The lights of the beard issue] in thirteen parts. This is because the light that manifests and pierces via the beard originates in the three brains. These [states of mentality] are three names Havayah, which together possess 12 letters. These together with the 13th level that encompasses them all are 13 states of rectification. Therefore, all these 13 states [are channeled] through the beard of this male.

Each of the three "brains" or mentalities (chochma, bina, and daat) is a different manifestation of G‑d's creative energy, which is expressed in the name Havayah. Arich Anpin is considered a male partzuf, and there is no corresponding female partzuf that shares its mental states. These can therefore be entirely channeled through its own beard.

But below, there are only nine parts of the beard of Zeir Anpin. For above, in Arich Anpin, there is no feminine principle. The three final letters hei in the three names Havayah are for the female, and what is left [for the male] is the three letters yud-hei-vav in each name. This is why there are nine parts of the beard of Zeir Anpin and 13 parts of the beard of Arich Anpin.

When the three names Havayah in the three brains of Arich Anpin descend into its torso, there is no feminine principle to absorb the residual light from the final hei's of these names that pierces through the skin of the jaw and neck. Therefore, all this light can be manifest as a beard. When the similar process occurs in Zeir Anpin, however, there is the partzuf of Nukva to absorb the feminine energy from these letters. Thus, there are only 9 letters left to manifest in the beard. There is no kolel here (as there is in Arich Anpin) since the full array is not present.

Of these thirteen [parts of the beard of Arich Anpin], two are referred to as a mazal, in that divine beneficence flows downward through them. These are the attributes of "storing kindness" and "and acquits." His robe was like white snow…

As we have mentioned previously, the thirteen tufts of the beard of Arich Anpin are synonymous with the thirteen attributes, or aspects, of divine mercy:

   Exodus 34 beard
1 mighty sideburns
2 merciful mustache
3 and gracious the lack of hair in the middle
of the mustache
4 long- the hair under the lower lip
5 suffering the lack of hair in the middle
of the hair under the lower lip
6 abundant in kindness the hair of the jaw bone
7 and truth the lack of hair on the cheeks
8 storing kindness the upper layer of the beard
9 to thousands the short hairs between the upper
and lower layers of the beard
10 bearing iniquity the small hairs near the throat
11 and transgression the fact that these small hairs
are all of equal size
12 and sin the lack of hair in the mouth
13 and acquits the lower layer of the beard

It will be noted that these two (#8 and #13) are the upper and lower layers of the beard proper. As opposed to all the other parts of the beard in this table, these two extend downward.

These two mazalot couple and bestow beneficence on Zeir Anpin and Nukva. This is why it is said that these hairs reach the level of the navel [of Arich Anpin], for they impart beneficence to Zeir Anpin and Nukva, which exist from the level of the navel and downward.

The word for "storing [kindness]" ["notzer", spelled nun-tzadik-reish] may be permuted to spell the word for "will" ["ratzon", spelled reish-tzadik-vav-nun].

There is an implied vav in between the nun and the tzadik of notzer. This affords an association between this attribute of mercy and Arich Anpin, the partzuf of will.

This is because bina is termed "will," and it is the attribute of chesed. For this reason the high priest was robed in eight vestments. In general, the beard of the high priest is associated with bina, the eighth sefira.

The eighth attribute is "storing chesed," and we have just noted that "storing" is a permutation of "will." There must, therefore, be a connection between "will" and chesed. The connecting link is bina. When Isaac and Rebecca were praying, they were addressing these two attributes…

In the verse, "like the beard of Aaron, cascading down over his garments…" (Ps.133:2), we see that the beard is associated with Aaron, the first high priest. The word for "his garments" in this verse ("middotav") also can mean "his middot" or "his emotions". Thus, we have the image of Aaron the high priest with his beard flowing into the middot. In light of what we have seen above, this makes us identify Aaron with Arich Anpin, whose beard flows into Zeir Anpin, the partzuf of the middot.

As we said, middot can mean both emotions and garments. However, the high priest wore eight garments, while we usually speak of only seven middot. The eighth midda, then, is the next sefira in the series, which, if we begin with malchut and count upwards, is bina. In Aaron, or Arich Anpin, we may thus consider bina together with the middot.

The priest in his service elicits divine goodwill, as is seen in many verses throughout the Torah.

As we have also explained previously, the priest (Kohen) expressed the divine attribute of chesed, while the Levite (Levi) expressed the attribute of gevura.

The beard moreover is a garment, as it is written, "His robe was like white snow, [and the hair of his head was like pure wool]" (Dan. 7:9) and the beard is the attribute of "and acquits."

The verse quoted is a description of "the Ancient of Days", which, although usually as a term refers to the partzuf of Atik Yomin, is evidently taken here to refer to Arich Anpin (which, after all, enclothes Atik Yomin just as the other partzufim of Atzilut enclothe it). The "robe" in this verse is understood to be a white, flowing beard. The second half of the verse speaks of the hair of the head being like "pure wool". The word for used for "pure" or "clean" here is naka, Aramaic for nakeh (the whole verse, like most of the book of Daniel, is in Aramaic), the word for "acquits" in the list of the 13 attributes of mercy.

These two mazalot couple as one, [as mentioned above].

Now, these two mazalot are the two drops [of anointing oil] that hung at the end of Aaron's beard, as our sages have said. (Horayot 12a) This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "It is like the precious oil upon the head, cascading down upon the beard." (Ps. Ibid.) The oil is the light of chochma, as the sages say, "whoever is accustomed to use oil merits chochma." (Menachot 85a)

And as we have explained previously, chochma is the seminal drop of insight that enters the conscious mind as a concentrated essence from the super-conscious. This is similar to oil, which is the concentrated essence of the olive.

All the brains are receptacles for chochma and are called by its name. This is the mystical meaning of [the phrase from the above-quoted verse,] "like the precious oil."

The meaning is as follows: The order in which the partzufim enclothe Arich Anpin is that Abba enclothes his right arm and [the right] half of his torso, while Imma enclothes his left arm and [the left] half of his torso. [Both extend downward and enclothe him] as far as his navel. This is the mystical significance of the tefillin that we put on our left hand, for we elevate thereby the Nukva into Imma, which enclothes the left hand of Arich Anpin.

Zeir Anpin enclothes the right thigh [of Arich Anpin] up to his navel, while Nukva of Zeir Anpin enclothes his left thigh up to his navel. This is the meaning of [the statement in the Zohar:] "he is with netzach, and she is with hod."

Netzach and hod correspond to the right and left legs, respectively.

The beard of Arich Anpin extends down to his navel, where is found the head of Zeir Anpin. This is the mystical meaning of the expression "upon the head" [in the verse quoted above], for the divine beneficence flows onto the head of Zeir Anpin.

The verse thus reads, mystically: "Like the precious oil - i.e., chochma, suspended as drops on the end of the beard of Arich Anpin, which is on top of the head of Zeir Anpin."

But before it reaches the head of Zeir Anpin it "cascades down the beard," meaning that it ascends to [the eighth part of the beard,] "storing [chesed]."

For this attribute of divine mercy corresponds to the upper layer of the beard proper.

This is the mystical meaning of the [continuation of the verse quoted above:] "running down over his garments". The word for "his garments" [midotav] can be read as "the middot of [the letters] vav-yud", meaning the hairs, as mentioned above. That is why the word "over" [al] is used here, for it refers to the hairs themselves.

The vav signifies the hollow channel of the hair, and the yud signifies the light pulsing through it. Thus, the verse describes the light of chochma flowing down the beard.

[Once it has received the influx of chochma from Arich Anpin via its beard,] Zeir Anpin then gives it in turn to Nukva. This is the mystical meaning of the verse: "Open for me, my bride…, for my head is full of dew". (Song. 5:2) The dew refers to the light which flows from the hair of his head, whose numerical value is the same as that of the word for "dew" ["tal", tet-lamed = 39].

[This verse continues:] "…my locks with the drops of the night." These [locks] are the hair on the back of the head [of Zeir Anpin], which hang down until they reach the head of Nukva, behind him. This is the mystical meaning of "the drops of the night," i.e., the drops [of chochma] that reach "night," i.e., malchut.

Day and night are masculine and feminine images, and therefore correspond to the male and female archetypes of Zeir Anpin and Nukva.

Now, when Isaac and Rebecca were praying [to G‑d for children], they were addressing these two attributes [of divine mercy]. This is why the expression "entreated" is used [instead of the more usual "prayed"]. As our sages say: "Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to a pitchfork? To indicate that just as a pitchfork turns the grain from place to place in the barn, so do the prayers of the righteous turn the mind of the Holy One, blessed be He, from the attribute of judgment to the attribute of mercy." (Sukka 14a )

The root of the word for "entreat" (in Hebrew, "ayin-tav-reish") also means "pitchfork".

Isaac was directing his prayers [to G‑d] via the [thirteenth] mazal, "and He acquits", for from there he [emulating Zeir Anpin] had to direct divine beneficence [in this case, fertility] to his wife.

Rebecca, on the other hand, directed her prayers [to G‑d] via the [eighth] mazal, "storing [chesed]" which is the male of the two.

This was in order to elicit divine mercy upon her husband.

Each one prayed opposite to the other. This is why it says "opposite his wife".

The continuation of this article is: Bread and Salt.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah; 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."