We must now explain briefly the order of these ten plagues that the Holy One, blessed be He, visited upon the Egyptians in Egypt. The plagues were: blood, frogs, lice, the horde of animals, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and slaying the firstborn. They correspond, in ascending order, to the ten [sub-] sefirot of Nukva, otherwise known as Malchut.

To explain:

1. Blood. As I have told you, the numerical value of the simple progressive iteration of the name Eh-yeh is 44, that of the word for "blood" [in Hebrew, "dam"].

Eh-yeh: alef-hei-yud-hei. The simple progressive iteration [achorayim] of this name is:

Alef, alef-hei, alef-hei-yud, alef-hei-yud-hei:

1 + (1 + 5) + (1 + 5 + 10) + (1 + 5 + 10 + 5) = 44.

Dam: dalet-mem = 4 + 40 = 44.

This plague issued from the Malchut of the holy feminine principle [i.e., the partzuf of Nukva] and smote the evil Malchut, i.e., Nukva of Zeir Anpin in the realm of evil. [Specifically,] this plague attacked her outside her head.

Meaning her skull [in Hebrew, "gulgalta"], signifying keter of the evil Nukva.

2. Frogs. The sum of 320, the number of states of strict judgment, as is known, plus the numerical value of the simple progressive iteration of the name Ado-nai, which is 126, plus the kolel for both of them, is the numerical value of the word for "frog" [in Hebrew, "tzefardei'a", which equals 444].

According to Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, the kolels here should be added to the numerical value of the word "frog" (444), giving 446, the sum of 320 and 126. [This is also implied in the parallel passage in Pri Etz Chaim.]

Ado-nai: alef-dalet-nun-yud. The progressive iteration of this name is:

alef alef-dalet alef-dalet-nun alef-dalet-nun-yud:

1 + (1 + 4) + (1 + 4 + 50) + (1 + 4 + 50 + 10) = 126.

Tzefardei'a: tzadik-pei-reish-dalet-ayin:

90 + 80 + 200 + 4 + 70 = 444.

This plague issued from the yesod of the holy feminine principle and smote the brains of the evil Nukva.

This is the mystical meaning of the word for "frog" [tzefardei'a], which can be seen as a combination of the words for "bird" [in Hebrew, "tzipor"] and "knowledge" ["dei'a"], referring to the daat [of this Nukva]. As you know, the brains of [this Nukva] are manifest as two birds, as mentioned in the Zohar (I:218) and as we have explained elsewhere (Sha'ar Ma'amarei Rashbi, VaYechi; Etz Chaim 48:2; Mevo Shearim 6:2:5:6). This plague… smote the highest part of the skull…the location of the hair on the head

3. Lice. The numerical value of the word for "lice" [in Hebrew, "kinim"] is 120. This is the numerical value of the name Elo-him, 86, plus the number of letters in the second iteration of the name Ado-nai, 34.

Kinim: kaf-nun-yud-mem = 20 + 50 + 10 + 40 = 120.

Elo-him: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86.

The second iteration of the name Ado-nai:

simple spelling

spelling-out of

expansion of the spelling-out of

alef

alef

alef-lamed-pei

lamed

lamed-mem-dalet

pei

pei-alef

dalet

dalet

dalet-lamed-tav

lamed

lamed-mem-dalet

tav

tav-vav

nun

nun

nun-vav-nun

vav

vav-alef-vav

nun

nun-vav-nun

yud

yud

yud-vav-dalet

vav

vav-alef-vav

dalet

dalet-lamed-tav

This plague issued from the hod of the holy feminine principle - for, as you know, Imma's influence extends until hod - and smote the highest part of the skull encompassing the head of the evil Nukva, the location of the hair on the head. [This plague] also [smote] the malchut - the final [sub-]sefira of the evil Zeir Anpin, otherwise known as Samael, the husband [of the evil Nukva]. As is known, lice nest in the hair of the head.

Imma, intellectual inspiration, extends its influence as far as hod, the last of the midot with original content. Yesod and malchut are just the coalescence and expression of all that has preceded them. Thus, this plague, although issuing from hod, is primarily a "head" plague.

It appears to me, Chaim [Vital], that this is also the mystical meaning of the verse, "And G‑d will smite the skull of the [wayward] daughters of Zion with lesions" (Isaiah 3:17), that He infested their heads with families of lice, as our sages explain (Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah, 247, 267.)

The homily is based on the fact that the word for "smite with lesions" [sin-pei-chet] is also the root of the Hebrew word for "family" ["mishpacha", shin-pei-chet].

4. Horde. In Hebrew, this word [in Hebrew, "arov"] is written without the [expected] vav. It thus expresses the simple progressive iteration of the name Havayah, whose numerical value is 72, plus the simple progressive iteration of the name Elo-him, whose numerical value is 200. Their sum is the numerical value of the word for "hoard" [272].

Havayah: yud-hei-vav-hei. The progressive iteration of this name is:

yud, yud-hei, yud-hei-vav, yud-hei-vav-hei =

10 + (10 + 5) + (10 + 5 + 6) + (10 + 5 + 6 + 5) = 72.

Elo-him: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem. The progressive iteration of this name is:

alef, alef-lamed, alef-lamed-hei, alef-lamed-hei-yud, alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem

= 1 + (1 + 30) + (1 + 30 + 5) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40) = 40 + 2(10) + 3(5) + 4(30) + 5(1) = 40 + 20 + 15 + 120 + 5 = 200.

Arov: ayin-reish-beit = 70 + 200 + 2 = 272.

This plague issued from the forehead [i.e. netzach] of the holy feminine principle and smote the yesod of the evil Zeir Anpin, i.e., Samael.

The Hebrew word for "forehead" is "metzach", etymologically related to "netzach". Also, "netzach" ["victory"] signifies resolve, which we express by contracting the skin on the forehead.

5. Pestilence. The numerical value of the word for "pestilence" [in Hebrew, "dever"] is equivalent to the combined numerical values of two names Elo-him, 172 - the numerical value of the word for "heel" [in Hebrew, "eikev"] - plus the number of letters in the second spelling-out of the name Ado-nai, 34. 172 plus 34 equals 206, the numerical equivalent of the word for "pestilence".

Dever: dalet-beit-reish = 4 + 2 + 200 = 206.

As above, the numerical value of Elo-him is 86. 2 x 86 = 172.

Eikev = ayin-kuf-beit = 70 + 100 + 2 = 172.

We saw above that the number of letters in the second spelling out of Ado-nai is 34. Evil behavior changes G‑d's natural mercy into judgment…

This plague issued from the tiferet of the holy Nukva and smote the hod of the evil Zeir Anpin.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, said in connection with this plague, "behold, the hand of G‑d is…", indicating how the name Havayah written in its natural sequence [yud-hei-vav-hei] - which signifies tiferet, the inner motivation of which is mercy - is inverted to hei-vav-yud-hei, signifying strict judgment.

In this verse, we first see the name Havayah spelled in its natural order of letters, followed immediately by the word "is" - which is usually left out in Hebrew. This word is spelled hei-vav-yud-hei, which of course is a rearrangement of the letters that spell the name Havayah. Thus, evil behavior changes G‑d's natural mercy into judgment.

6. Boils. This plague issued from the gevura of the holy feminine principle. Now, the numerical value of gevura is 216. From gevura on down to malchut are manifest five more [sub-]sefirot, each comprised of ten [sub-sub-sefirot], giving a total of 50 [sub-sub-sefirot]. 216 plus 50 equals 266. When 102 is added to this number, we have 368, the numerical value of the word for "boils" [in Hebrew, "shechin"]. 102 is the sum of the numerical values of the three expansions of the three names Havayah whose total numerical values are 72, 63, and 45, these being 46, 37, and 19, respectively. 46 plus 37 plus 19 equals 102. They signify the states of judgment that extend to the realm of evil, as we have explained elsewhere (Etz Chaim 19:2) in our explanation of the passage of the Mishna (Shabbat 6:8) that begins, "an amputee may go out with his wooden leg".

Gevura: gimel-beit-vav-reish-hei = 3 + 2 + 6 + 200 + 5 = 216.

Shechin: shin-chet-yud-nun = 300 + 8 + 10 + 50 = 368.

As we have learned previously, there are four principle ways in which the name Havayah is spelled out [based on how we spell out the letters hei and vav], which produce four separate numerical values. The first three of these are 72, 63, and 45. When we consider only the letters used in the process of spelling out [the milui], we have:

letter 1st spelling out 2nd spelling out 3rd spelling out

yud

vav-dalet 6 + 4 10 vav-dalet 6 + 4 10 vav-dalet 6 + 4 10
hei yud 10 10 Yud 10 10 alef 1 1
vav yud-vav 10 + 6 16 alef-vav 1 + 6 7 alef-vav 1 + 6 7
hei yud 10 10 Yud 10 10 alef 1 1
46 37 19

The passage of the Mishna cited states that a person with a wooden-leg is allowed to walk in the public domain on the Shabbat, and this is not considered carrying for him (which would be forbidden). The numerical value of the word for "wooden-leg", in Hebrew, "kav", is 102.

[As stated,] these states of judgment issued from the gevura of the holy Nukva and smote the netzach of the evil Zeir Anpin.

[As for these states of judgment], the letter shin of "shechin" [boils] signifies the 300 states of judgment and severity. To these, add the numerical value of the name Havayah spelled out to equal 52 [i.e., with the letter hei], plus the number of letters in the name Ado-nai [4] and the number of letters used to spell it out [12]. This gives 368, the numerical value of the word for "boils."

According to Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, the 300 states of severity are the three sefirot on the left axis of the sefira tree [bina, gevura, and hod], each sub-divided into ten sub-sefirot, which themselves are then subdivided into 100 sub-sub-sefirot, giving 300.

The name Havayah spelled out to equal 52:

yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

The name Ado-nai is spelled out with 12 letters:

alef-lamed-pei dalet-lamed-tav nun-vav-nun yud-vav-dalet

300 + 52 + 4 + 12 = 368.

7. Hail. The numerical value of the progressive iteration of the name Elo-him is 200. Adding to this the number of letters in the name Elo-him [5] plus the kolel gives 206. This is the numerical value of the word for "hail" [in Hebrew, "barad"].

Barad: beit-reish-dalet = 2 + 200 + 4 = 206. Hail is made of water, which…expresses chesed. But it was commingled with flaming fire…

This plague issued from the chesed of the holy feminine principle, for hail is made of water, which derives from and expresses chesed. But it was commingled with flaming fire, originating in gevura. It smote the tiferet of the evil Zeir Anpin.

8. Locusts. This plague manifests four names Elo-him spelled out. This name spelled out in two iterations uses 52 letters. These four expanded spellings are called the four "sons of G‑d." There are two that originate in chochma and two that originate in bina. Their combined number of letters is the same as that of the word for "locust" [in Hebrew, "arbeh"].

These locusts were an impure species, signifying strict judgment, as opposed to the pure species of locusts [permitted by the Torah]. "The Torah spoke of four sons"; these are the four names Havayah spelled out with the letter hei. [Ref. the Passover Haggada, referring to the four times in the Torah where G‑d describes how we are to teach our children about the exodus from Egypt.]

The name Elo-him (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem) spelled out twice:

alef

alef

alef

lamed

pei

lamed

lamed

mem

dalet

pei

pei

alef

lamed

lamed

lamed

mem

dalet

mem

mem

mem

dalet

dalet

lamed

tav

hei

hei

hei

yud

yud

yud

vav

dalet

yud

yud

yud

vav

dalet

vav

vav

yud

vav

dalet

dalet

lamed

tav

mem

mem

mem

mem

mem

mem

mem

As we see, the name itself is 5 letters, the first iteration uses 13 letters, and the second iteration uses 34 letters. 5 + 13 + 34 = 52. This number is the numerical value of the word for "son" (ben: beit-nun = 2 + 50); thus, the double spelling-out of the name Elo-him is, so to speak, the "son" of Elo-him.

4 x 52 = 208.

Arbeh: alef-reish-beit-hei = 1 + 200 + 2 + 5 = 208.

As we have seen, the numerical value of the name Havayah when spelled out with the letter hei is also 52. This spelling out of this name can thus alos be considered a "son" of Havayah. Since the name Elo-him signifies judgment, the "sons" of this name are the forbidden, non-kosher locusts. The four "sons of Havayah" are the kosher species of locusts.

They issued from the bina of the holy feminine principle, and smote the gevura of the evil Zeir Anpin.

9. Darkness. This is alluded to by the well-known 325 states of judgment, which we explained elsewhere. These states of judgment are the 320 powerful sparks, the states of judgment of the Egyptians. The additional 5 are actually states of mercy that sweeten the said 320 states of judgment, this giving a total of 325. These 5 [states of mercy] were the light that shone for Israel during the days of the Egyptian darkness, as it is written, "and there was light for all the Children of Israel in their habitations." (Ex. 10:23) And thus, "light" is mentioned five times in Torah's description of the first day of Creation. The alef of the word for "light" alludes to the three alefs that complete the calculation to get 328, the numerical value of the word for "darkness" [in Hebrew, "choshech"].

Choshech: chet-shin-chaf = 8 + 300 + 20 = 328.

[Amended according to other versions cited by Rabbi Shalom Sharabi.] Each plague expressed a different combination of divine power channeled by Nukva to destroy its evil opponents…

It will be recalled that in the plague of frogs, the 320 states of judgment operated without any such mitigation [from the 5 states of mercy].

The 3 necessary to bring the calculation from 325 to 328 are derived from the letter alef when graphically split into two down the middle of its middle stroke. When drawn this way, the alef splits into two combinations of the letters yud and vav. The combined numerical values of these four letters is 32, corresponding to the 32 pathways of wisdom, i.e. Abba. As is known, the 320 states of judgment are rectified through thought, i.e. Abba.

The split alef: yud-vav-vav-yud = 10 + 6 + 6 + 10 = 32.

These [states of judgment] issued from the chochma of the holy feminine principle and smote the chesed of the evil Zeir Anpin.

10. Killing the Firstborn. This plague issued from the keter of the holy Nukva and smote the three highest [sub-]sefirot of the evil Zeir Anpin. The initials of these three sefirot - keter, reishit chochma, bina - spell the word for "firstborn" [in Hebrew, "bechor"]. This is similar to what is explained in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 70, pg. 119b) regarding the word for "blessed" [in Hebrew, "baruch"] and the name of the River Kevar.

Chochma is referred to as "reishit chochma" ["the beginning of wisdom"] based on the verse: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of G‑d." (Psalms 111:10) Also, chochma is the first conscious sefira, and is therefore known as "the beginning".

In summary:

. 

plague

smiting sub-sefira
in the holy Nukva

evil sub-sefira smitten

1.

blood

malchut

keter of Nukva

2.

frogs

yesod

brains of Nukva

3.

lice

hod

skull hair of Nukva
and malchut of Zeir Anpin

4.

horde

netzach

yesod of Zeir Anpin

5.

pestilence

tiferet

hod of Zeir Anpin

6.

boils

gevura

netzach of Zeir Anpin

7.

hail

chesed

tiferet of Zeir Anpin

8.

locusts

bina

gevura of Zeir Anpin

9.

darkness

chochma

chesed of Zeir Anpin

10.

firstborn

keter

keter-chochma-bina of Zeir Anpin

If we consider all this, we see here yet another overturning of Victorian stereotypes. Here, the female is the attacking warrior, and she attacks not only her opposing female principle but also - and chiefly - the evil male. The female is the attacking warrior, and she attacks …the evil male…

In this tour de force of feminine power, Nukva seems to be mustering all her possible sources of divine energy, based on various combinations of divine names. Thus, we see why the Ten Plagues first of all had to be ten, and secondly, why they took the specific forms they did: each plague expressed a different combination of divine power channeled by Nukva to destroy its evil opponents.

According to how we have defined the male and female components of consciousness previously, this makes sense: if the female is the drive to concretize divinity in the world, it should specifically be the female that gets incensed over the forces that oppose this drive, namely evil.


Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim and Pri Etz Chaim; 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.