[To read Part 1: Depths of Exile and Redemption, click here.]

The Egyptian exile is referred as [encompassing] the throat, for Pharaoh was situated on the neck of holiness, which is opposite the throat.

The word "Pharaoh" [spelled pei-reish-ayin-hei] permutes to spell "the neck" [in Hebrew, "ha oref", spelled hei-ayin-reish-pei]. In this context, the word "neck" connotes the nape, or back of the neck.

Evil can never face holiness directly…

This is because evil can never face holiness directly, for [holiness] is a great light, and this blinds evil. This is the mystical meaning of our sages' statement that "the wicked do not greet the Shechinah," (Sota 42a) for they cannot face it directly. Rather, they are attached to it from the back, facing the Shechinah's back, and this is how they derive their sustenance.

In Hebrew, the idiom for "to greet" is literally "to receive the face of". If we imagine the forces of evil as cosmic leeches or other such sucking creatures, the imagery of them sucking off the back of the body conveys the idea that they receive only minimal life-force from holiness. The front of the body houses much more vitality.

Pharaoh was facing the neck, sitting and feeding off it. There are three channels of sustenance in the neck: the trachea, the esophagus, and the blood vessels.

"The blood vessels" are probably the two common carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain.

These are the three names Elokim, whose numerical value [plus the kolel] is the same as that of the word for "throat" [in Hebrew, "garon", 259].

"Elokim" is spelled: alef-lamed-he -yud-mem = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86. 3 x 86 = 258.

"Garon" is spelled: gimel-reish-vav-nun = 3 + 200 + 6 + 50 = 259.

The name "Elokim" signifies contraction [tzimtzum], in this context, the contraction of life force flowing from the head to the torso.

Joseph manifested the "covenant of the tongue", which includes them all. [This is] also [evident from the fact that] the numerical value of the word for "tongue" [in Hebrew, "lashon", 386] is that of two names Elokim, one simple [86] and one spelled out with yuds [300].

Speech and sexuality represent the individual's potential to influence the outside world….

The "covenant of the tongue" is first alluded to in Sefer Yetzira (I:3), being mentioned as opposite the other covenant, that of the sexual organ. These two organs - those of speech and sexuality - represent the individual's potential to influence the outside world. Since they are the two main locations of exchange and contact between the individual and his environment, a not-yet rectified world, they must be guarded and their holiness preserved. Hence, the two covenants.

These two covenants are mutually dependent. If a person's sexuality is unrectified, so will be his speech, and vice versa. Thus, Joseph, who usually personifies sexual purity, here plays the role of purity of speech, the opposite of the degenerate spiritual state of Egypt. We see here how unholy speech has the effect of blocking the passage of holy energy from the intellect [the head] to the emotions [the body].

"Lashon" is spelled: lamed-shi -vav-nun = 30 + 300 + 6 + 50 = 386.

Elokim spelled out with yuds:

alef-lamed-pei, lamed-mem-dalet, hei-yud, yud-vav-dalet, mem-mem =
(1 + 30 + 80) + (30 + 40 + 4) + (5 + 10) + (10 + 6 + 4) + (40 + 40) = 300.

This is why [Joseph] was sold to the chief butcher, for [this aspect of] evil comprises three facets, corresponding to the trachea, the esophagus, and the blood vessels, which were embodied by Pharaoh's three deputies: the chief butler, the chief baker, and the chief butcher [respectively].

We are using the term "chief butler" to translate the Hebrew "the deputy in charge of drink."

The chief butler corresponded to the trachea. True, no liquid can enter the trachea, so how can we assert that the chief butler corresponds to it? The answer is that the lungs are particularly hot, and therefore exemplify gevura. As it is stated in the Zohar, "the lion faces the right," (Zohar II:80b, 120a, III:241a, etc.) the numerical value of "gevura" being the same as that of the word for "lion" [in Hebrew, "aryeh"]. It tends toward the right in order that [chesed and gevura] inter-include. Therefore, since it is so hot, it draws to itself all types of moisture and thereby cools off, and then fans the heart. This is why the chief butler corresponds to the trachea.

We exhale hot air, indicating that the lungs are naturally hot. Heat and fire exemplify gevura, power and strength. The lion, the strong beast, also exemplifies gevura, yet in Ezekiel's vision of the Chariot (Ezekiel 1:10), it is on the right side, the side of chesed. This signifies rectified gevura, i.e. gevura tempered by chesed.

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

"Aryeh" is spelled: alef-reish-yud-hei = 1 + 200 + 10 + 5 = 216.

The chief baker corresponds to the esophagus, which in turn corresponds to gevura.

The baker bakes bread, the main food, swallowed by the esophagus.

The chief butcher corresponds to blood vessels in the middle [of the neck]. There are two [such blood vessels], leaning in either direction.

The butcher slaughters the animal, draining its blood. He therefore is associated with the blood vessels.

Joseph [as we said] corresponds to all these aspects [on the side of holiness].

This is the meaning of the verse: "Do not interpretations [of dreams] belong to G‑d [Elokim]? Please tell me [your dream]." (Gen. 40:8) Since interpretations come from Joseph, he therefore said, "Please tell me." He meant: since you derive your sustenance from and are governed entirely by the name Elokim - this being the meaning of "Do not [the] interpretations [of your life] belong to G‑d [Elokim]" - you, Pharaoh, have no conception of the name Havayah, only of the name Elokim. And, indeed, [Pharaoh] said, "I do not know Havayah." (Ex. 5:2) He had no connection to this name. On the contrary, when this name is revealed, [Pharaoh and the evil he personifies] is completely destroyed.

[Pharaoh and the Egyptians therefore] did not recognize that this name is what was attacking them [in the plagues]. Only at the sea did they finally recognize this, as they said, "I will flee the Children of Israel for Havayah is fighting for them." (Ex. 14:25) This implies that until then, they thought that the plagues came from the name Elokim. They therefore did not fear them, for they, too, had a connection to the name Elokim. But once they realized that the plagues originated in the name Havayah, they said, "I will flee," because it threatened to destroy them completely.

This is why God now said to Moses, "Come to Pharaoh…in order that I place these signs of Mine…." That is, "do not think that I am going to relate to him through the name Elokim, and that the plagues are going to originate in the name Elokim, to which he has some connection. Rather, I am going 'to place these signs of Mine in his midst,' meaning My name Havayah." This is also explains the use of the phrase "in his midst", [referring to the way G‑d is going to relate to Pharaoh].

The Hebrew word for "signs", "otot", is similar to the Hebrew word for "letters", "otiot", inasmuch as letters are symbols for the sounds they represent. Thus, mystically, this phrase may mean: "…in order that I place the letters of My true name [Havayah] in his midst." His "midst" means "in his consciousness".

This is what Joseph meant [in his reply to Pharaoh]: "G‑d relates to you [presently] only through His name Elokim, and this is why the interpretation of your dreams is through this name. Therefore, please tell them to me, since I comprise all these levels and I can therefore interpret them."

As said above, Joseph, epitomizing the covenant of the tongue, comprised all the holy aspects corresponding to the deputies of Pharaoh.

Thus, when the chief butler related his dream, it was all in proper order. He said, "The vine had three branches," (Gen. 40:10) these being the three deputies. The word for "deputy" [in Hebrew, "sar"] represents two names Elokim, one in the progressive iteration and the other spelled out with the letter yud.

"Sar" is spelled: sin-reish. The numerical value of the letter sin is 200; that of reish is 300. We have seen above how the name Elokim when spelled out using the yud has the numerical value of 300. The progressive iteration of the name Elokim is as follows:

Alef alef-lamed alef-lamed-hei alef-lamed-hei-yud alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem =200

1 + (1 + 30) + (1 + 30 + 5) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40) = 200

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

Thus, the word for "deputy" implies the name Elokim, and the three deputies were three names Elokim, as above.

[Joseph] interpreted his dream: "You will put Pharaoh's cup…." He hoped that he would be connected to him and be on the right [side], and thereby be rescued through him.

After interpreting the chief butler's dream and saying that he will be spared, Joseph asked him to remember him to Pharaoh and have him freed from jail.

But at this point, he was connected to the chief butcher, who was in the middle. That is why he [later] married his daughter.

Joseph mistakenly thought to connect himself to chesed, when in fact he was connected to tiferet. Joseph, personifying yesod, is firmly grounded in the middle axis of the sefirot. It was thus not proper for him to seek salvation from someone associated with the right axis. Sexual fidelity and purity is about balance, not leaning toward one extreme.

Joseph married Osnat, the daughter of Potiphar, the chief butcher. (Gen. 41:45, 37:36)

The chief baker began his dream with the word, "even" [in Hebrew, "af"]. This signifies the addition of gevura and strength. Even though he also mentioned three wicker baskets, signifying the three deputies, as they each inter-include the others, he mentioned all three only after he said the word "even". [Joseph] turned his dream upside down, and interpreted it to mean that he would die.

This was evidently because the word "even" indicated that the chief baker emphasized gevura too much. In Hebrew, the word "even" used here is "af", which also means "nose", an idiom often used to refer to anger.

…for the throat is parched during its exile…

Since the exile [of Egypt] was at the level of the throat, from which issues speech, Moses [the redeemer from this exile] had "uncircumcised lips" and could not talk [well]. This is the meaning of the verse "…my throat is parched" (Psalms 69:4), for the throat is parched during its exile.

In order to redeem the Jewish people from exile, Moses had to experience it himself. This he did by being hard of speech.

The five letters of the name Elokim signify the five states of gevura, and produce the 120 permutations in Zeir Anpin. This number is the numerical value of the word for "shadow" [in Hebrew, "tzeil"].

The name Elokim is composed of 5 letters. 5 letters permute in 120 ways: 5 = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120.

"Tzeil" is spelled: tzadik-lamed = 90 + 30 = 120.

The Hebrew word for "shadow" ["tzeil"] is related to the word for "image" ["tzelem" in Hebrew].

"Tzelem" is spelled: tzadik-lamed-mem. Thus, "tzelem" is "tzeil" with the addition of a final mem. This letter usually indicates sealing off, since its form is a closed square.

The word for "shadow" ["tzeil"] signifies these 120 [permutations of the name] Elokim, which are male in nature. The word for "image" ["tzelem"] signifies these 120 [permutations in their] female [version]. [The latter] are sealed within [Nukva], appearing as two doors [closing it off] so that evil cannot derive any sustenance from him.

We thus look at the word "tzelem" as the word "tzel" in essence, with the incidental addition of the final mem.

We therefore find the word for "shadow" in the plural, as in the verse "The shadows have fled" (Songs 2:17). This refers to the 120 male [permutations] and the 120 female [permutations]. But the word for "image" appears only in the singular, not in the plural, for the final mem is affixed only in the female.

[To continue with Part 3: The Finger of G‑d, click here]

[Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim; 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.