The paradigm of Heaven and Earth manifests on all levels of Creation: soul and body, "lights" and "vessels", revelation and concealment, study and deed, male and female, self-awareness vs. selflessness, etc. The body is inherently superior to the soul…

The body is inherently superior to the soul. It is because the soul senses this that it agrees to descend into the body. But in the present conditions of the world, the soul is superior and serves as the source of life and guidance to the soul. The body needs the soul to reveal and cultivate its power. In the Messianic era the body's superiority will be apparent.

The female is inherently superior to the male. It is in her power to create life. The male cannot create life. Yet, in this world, the female needs the male and must receive from him in order to manifest her ability to create. In Messianic times, the female's superiority will be apparent.

Deed, the practical fulfillment of divine will, is superior to study and divine awareness, love and awe. Yet in This World, "study is superior, since it leads to [and cultivates] deed." In the future, the superiority of deed will be apparent.

And Judah approached [Joseph] and said to him, "In me [usually translated as 'please'], my master…" (Gen. 44:18)

One of the major differences between the Temples that stood in Jerusalem and the Tabernacle that the Israelites constructed in the desert was in the way they were built. The Temples were made almost entirely of stone and earth, while the Tabernacle was made with wood and covered with animal skins. The only appearance of earth in the Tabernacle was on its floor.

The reason for this difference follows.

As is known, every level of reality contains the four elements:

Mineral (in Hebrew, "domem", meaning "silent ")

Vegetable (in Hebrew, "tzome-ach", meaning "that which grows")

Animal (in Hebrew, "chai", meaning "alive")

Human (in Hebrew, "medaber", meaning "able to speak ")

[In human terms, Mineral corresponds to thought, speech and action, which are "inanimate" and, unlike emotion or intellect, are unable to produce additional thought, speech and action. It is also compared to the letters of speech and thought, which are "inanimate" vessels for the ideas and feelings they contain. (Sefer Yetzira calls letters "stones".) The Rebbe did not approve of the translation of "domem" as "inanimate", since even "inanimate" objects must be animated by G‑d to remain in existence.]

Vegetable corresponds to emotions - love, fear etc. - which experience "growth", i.e. maturation, as the person matures. They also "grow" in intensity as one ponders and contemplates the beauty and desirability of a thing, or, conversely, the destructiveness and repulsiveness of a thing. The angels also are described as grass, i.e., Vegetable, since they experience emotion - love and awe of G‑d. They also experience growth in that their stature increases when they are engaged in song or the fulfillment of some mission.

Animal, or (in Hebrew, "Chai", literally meaning "alive") corresponds to intellect, which "gives life to all that possess it" (Ecclesiastes 7:12, See Likutei Torah, Chukat 58a; Torat Chaim pp. 19d - 22b.)

The Human, unique in his ability to speak, corresponds to keter, the essence of the soul, whence the ability to speak - and thus the letters and words of speech - stem. For it is speech whose entire being exists solely for the other, so that one can communicate to others. And it is in "leaving" itself and serving others that the soul's essence and infinity is expressed. As long as it is self-contained, even in the loftiest thoughts, it has not transcended its limited self. Thus the Human is referred to by his ability to speak (in Hebrew, "Medaber"), not his ability to think.

In the four letters of G‑d's name Havayah, the first letter, yud, corresponds to Human, hei to Animal, vav to Vegetable, and the second hei to Mineral. In sefirot, Human is chochma, Animal is bina, Vegetable is chesed through yesod (the six emotions), and Mineral is malchut.

Heaven and Earth

Now, in the natural order, Man is the highest and Mineral the lowest. But in the origin of things, Mineral is highest. For the final product is the first image in the mind of the creator. Later comes the conception of the steps necessary to achieve the final product. As a result, what we perceive to be the "highest" worlds are in fact lower than our own, since ours is the "first image" in the eye of the Creator, and for whose creation all previous worlds come into being.The final product is the first image in the mind of the creator…

So if Mineral is lowest in This World, it is highest in its original, conceptual manifestation. This accounts for the puzzling fact that the ground, the lowest element, has the capacity to produce its "superior", the Vegetable kingdom, which in turn has the ability to sustain its superiors, Animal and Man. Thus the "lowest" element precedes all others and therefore sustains them.

[It is for this reason that through talking, a seemingly inferior faculty, the "superior" faculties of intellect and emotion are intensified and enhanced. When one verbalizes a thought, one gains deeper insight into the matter. When one articulates an emotion, that feeling is intensified. Hence the paramount station of speech in Jewish law - the prayers must be enunciated verbally and the study of Torah must be performed with the mouth, not only with the brain. For, as explained, the ability to speak, the "inanimate" letters of speech stem from the essence of the soul, and are therefore inherently superior to the intellect and emotions they contain.]

Tabernacle and Temple

The Tabernacle was only a temporary dwelling for the manifestation of the Divine and therefore reflects the reality of the "order" of worlds, where highest precedes the lowest (Earth being lowest). Thus its floor was Earth, its walls Vegetable (wood), and its roof Animal, following the order of "Heaven precedes Earth".The Temples…were a taste of…the reality of things as they exist in their source…

But the Temples - permanent dwellings, as in the verse "this is my dwelling forever" (as opposed to the Tabernacle which moved from place to place) - were a taste of true reality: the reality of things as they exist in their source, the reality that will pervade in the Messianic era, the seventh millennia, the Shabbat of history.

At that time, the hierarchy of existence will be seen as it is in the world of Thought, where "Earth precedes Heaven". The "woman of valor [will be] a crown to her husband" (Proverbs 12:4), since "woman", i.e. Malchut [which is called "female" because it receives from the "higher" sefirot], will be seen as it is in its source as being above Zeir Anpin (the six sefirot of chesed through yesod, which are the "male" aspect of the ten sefirot), the higher sefirot.

Thus the Temple, the permanent dwelling, was constructed primarily of stone and earth, the lowest element, since it represented the Messianic reality when Malchut, or Mineral, will be seen as supreme. (The Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 4a, therefore sees wickedness in Cyrus' instruction that the walls of the Temple be constructed of three tiers of stone and a fourth of wood. The Talmud says his intention was that "if they rebel, I will set it on fire". On a deeper level, though, the use of wood in itself ran contrary to what the Temple was to represent.)

The inherent supremacy of Mineral is apparent even now in its humility. Unlike the Vegetable kingdom, which produces tall and proud trees, the earth is trodden upon by the feet of all. This selflessness is an expression of its lofty source.

Joseph and Judah

Joseph and Judah are representative of Heaven and Earth - Vegetable and Mineral. "Joseph" (in Hebrew, "Yosef"), which means "to increase", embodies growth. He is like the towering cedar tree that reaches the greatest heights. He is Zeir Anpin of Atzilut, the "emotions" of the sefirot, which, as mentioned, experience growth. Judah, on the other hand, represents Malchut of Atzilut, the selfless and "inanimate" sefira; hence his name "Judah" (in Hebrew, "Yehuda"), from the Hebrew word "hoda'ah", meaning acknowledgement and humility.

Now in the natural order, Joseph is above Judah, since Malchut receives from Zeir Anpin. Thus Joseph is the vizier of Egypt who provides sustenance to all. Judah, like Malchut, is the recipient. He therefore approaches Joseph and says "in me, my master" (Gen. 44:18), i.e. let the light of Zeir Anpin enter Malchut. The Zohar writes, "'And he approached' (Ibid.) - this is the coming together of one world to another". Namely, the lower world, Malchut approaches the higher world, Zeir Anpin, to be sustained and cultivated. As in the Tabernacle, Vegetable transcends Mineral. This was the fulfillment of Joseph's dream in which all the tribes "gather bundles", which then turn and bow to Joseph's bundle; this represented the need for the tribes, represented by Judah, to come to Joseph to achieve "the second refinement."

But in the Messianic era, Judah will rise beyond Joseph; the woman of valor will be the crown of her husband, since the final deed is first in thought. The selflessness of Judah will be revealed to be superior to the love and awe of Joseph. Hence we read in the haftorah that Joseph and Judah will in the future come together and "my servant David will rule over them forever " - David, of the tribe of Judah, will be seen as superior to Joseph.


It is known that Mashiach is called "David" because David epitomizes selflessness - and so does Mashiach. Although David was a monarch, he referred to himself as "poor" and "destitute" (Psalms 70:6). Similarly, regarding Mashiach, though the spirit of G‑d will rest upon him and he will teach Torah to the Patriarchs and to Moses - he will have the ultimate humility and will study with simpletons.David epitomizes selflessness - and so does Mashiach.

To bring about his arrival, a commensurate activity is required: the teaching of Torah to all, even the ignorant and simple. In addition, this must be done in a humble and selfless way - not for the gains to be had from teaching, but for the sake of the recipient. This brings closer the day when "my servant David will rule over them", may it be now.

Adapted from Sefer Ma'amarim Melukat 6:84

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.