Inside the choshen, the priestly breastplate was "the urim and the tumim", a parchment with divine names written on it that caused the letters on the stones of the choshen to protrude and light up when the High Priest wished to ascertain G‑d's will regarding some crucial question for the nation. Although it was one item, this parchment's name was double, indicating that its message was "lucid" ["urim" meaning "lights"] and "true" ["tumim" meaning "perfections"].

The urim are the "lights" that shine on the heart…

Now, according to the Zohar (II:170a), the urim were [manifest in] the choshen, while the tumim were [manifest in] the ephod. This is in agreement with what we have explained, since the urim are the "lights" that shine on the heart [of Zeir Anpin] and the words [that these lights cause to appear on the choshen] shine forth.

As was explained previously, the lights of yesod of Imma shine onto the chest of Zeir Anpin in order to help it mature. When a person's emotions are fully developed, they "shine outward"; he seeks to share the enthusiasm of his new insight with the rest of the world.

The tumim correspond to Nukva [of Zeir Anpin]. This is alluded to by the verse and together they will be matching [tamim] at the top. (Ex. 26:24)

This verse speaks of the boards that formed the walls of the Tabernacle. They had to be of equal height, in order to be fastened together by a rings inserted into slots carved in their tops. The word for "matching" ["tamim"] is obviously related to the word tumim. The word tumim thus is taken to imply a matching pair of something. As we will see, this invokes the image of the two female partzufim.

And it is know that there are two female [partzufim], Leah and Rachel.

As we have explained previously, Leah refers to the power of expression, or "garment," of thought, while Rachel refers to the "garment" of speech.

The two shoulder straps of the ephod correspond to Leah, for Leah is the concealed world, and all that is revealed of her is only two of her axes.

Thought is called the hidden world and speech the revealed world

Since a person's thoughts are hidden from others, thought is called "the hidden world" and speech "the revealed world". The ephod covered mostly the back of the priest. The skirt-part covered the buttocks and the back of the thighs and was only slightly wrapped around the front of the body; the shoulder straps rose out of the skirt-part in the back and extended up to the shoulders, only "peeking" over the shoulders to the front in order to be fastened by chains to the choshen. It thus is associated with the hidden partzuf of Leah.

Every partzuf comprises three axes, the right axis of its sub-sefirot chochma-chesed-netzach, the left axis of its sub-sefirot bina-gevura-hod, and its middle axis of daat-tiferet-yesod. The two shoulder straps embodied the left and right axes of Leah.

Also, [the word tamim further alludes to the two feminine partzufim, as follows:] the numerical value of the [letters used to spell out the] four alef's of [the four names Eh-yeh that become the intellects of] Leah and Rachel is each [440, the numerical value of the word for] "unblemished" [in Hebrew, "tam"].

The divine name Eh-yeh ("I shall be") is associated in Kabbala with bina/Imma, the principle sefira/partzuf of the intellect. As we have mentioned previously in the Arizal's teachings on parashat Bamidbar and Naso, specifically, the netzach-hod-yesod of Imma are expressed by four iterations of the name Eh-yeh. The intellect of Nukva is derived from the alefs of these four names. (Ref. Shaar HaPesukim on Psalms 39:5; Shaar HaKavanot, Keriat Shema 6) When the letter alef is spelled out (alef-pei-lamed, 1 + 80 + 30), its value becomes 111. The numerical value of the four alefs together is thus 4 x 111 = 444. If we consider just the letters used to spell out these alefs, and not the alefs themselves, we must subtract their numercial value (4 x 1 = 4) from this total, giving 444 - 4 = 440.

The tumim corresponds to the feminine principle….

Therefore, Jacob, who couples with them, is called "an unblemished [in Hebrew, 'tam'] man," (Gen. 25:27) [which can also be read,] "the husband of the tam," referring to either Leah or Rachel. Thus, the tumim corresponds to the feminine principle.

Now, the numerical value of choshen is the same as that of the name Sha-dai plus the diminishing value [achoraim] of the name Eh-yeh.

As we have explained, the name Eh-yeh is associated with binah, and the name Sha-dai is associated with yesod.

    Choshen: chet-shin-nun = 8 + 300 + 50 = 358.

    Sha-dai: shin-dalet-yud = 300 + 4 + 10 = 314.

The diminishing value of Eh-yeh (alef-hei-yud-hei):

    alef-hei-yud-hei, alef-hei-yud, alef-hei, alef = (1 + 5 + 10 + 5) + (1 + 5 + 10) + (1 + 5) + (1)
    = 21 + 16 + 6 + 1
    = 44.

    Together, 314 + 44 = 358.

Previously, it was noted that the numerical value of Sha-dai plus the diminishing value of Eh-yeh equals the numerical value of the word for "snake" [nachash], which is just a permutation of the word choshen. This equivalency indicates that the initial coupling of Zeir Anpin and Nukva occurs in an immature, selfish manner. The fact that this numerical equivalency (358) is also the numerical value of choshen indicates that the choshen is the "site" of this immature coupling between itself (representing Zeir Anpin, the masculine) and the ephod (representing Nukva, the feminine).

This is because the heart [of Zeir Anpin] is where the crown of the yesod of Imma terminates; this is why it is expressed by the "diminishing value" of the name Eh-yeh.

The choshen rested over the heart of the priest. The yesod of Imma is the intellect's drive for self-actualization, and this terminates (i.e., is realized) when the intellect produces emotion. The "crown" here refers to the tip or end of yesod.

There, at the level of the heart, is the initial manifestation of yesod of Zeir Anpin, which is [sufficient] for him to couple with Leah. As is known, there are two aspects of the yesod of Zeir Anpin: the first [is manifest] when Zeir Anpin is just [composed of] the six extremities [i.e. chesed to yesod]. At this stage, its yesod ascends to the level of its upper third and metamorphoses into its tiferet. This yesod is what couples with Leah.

When the partzuf of Zeir Anpin is first "born" out of Imma, it is "immature," meaning that it is just the six emotions from which it is originally constructed. The process of its maturation consists of it metamorphosing into a full partzuf of ten sub-sefirot, i.e. both intellect and emotions. Although it remains the partzuf of the emotions, the emotions, so to speak, acquire their own intellect (as distinct from the intellect per se, i.e. the partzufim of Abba and Ima) and are thus mature, stable emotions.

This metamorphosis is accomplished by the division of the six original sub-sefirot, similar to biological cell-division….

This metamorphosis is accomplished by the division of the six original sub-sefirot, similar to biological cell-division, with these new incarnations repositioning themselves in order to assume the role of the new intellect and emotions of the reconstituted, full partzuf. Without going into the full description of this process, what concerns us here is that the original yesod becomes the new tiferet.

The original yesod is part of the original configuration of the emotional partzuf, and thus represents an immature, selfish sort of sexuality. This immature, undeveloped sexual sefira suffices to let the immature emotions couple with Leah, the partzuf of thought. Since thought is inwardly directed, it is "self-oriented" or "selfish". We might characterize a person who is exclusively "a thinker" as narcissistic; he is caught up in the world of his own thoughts, and his sexuality is self-oriented and "sterile," pursued for the pleasure it affords him. In contrast, the mature yesod couples with Rachel, the partzuf of speech. Speech is outwardly directed; its purpose is to share the insight and emotions the insight engenders with the outside world, for the benefit of others. This sexuality is potent and fruitful.

The second [aspect of yesod is manifest] after maturation; this yesod is found below, in its proper place, and is there in order to couple with Rachel.

In any case, we see from here that there is an aspect of yesod at the level of the heart. Yesod is always associated with the name Sha-dai, and therefore at this location - the level of the heart - are the breasts.

The name Sha-dai can be read "shaddai", meaning, "my breasts."

Thus, there is a radiance of the name Sha-dai [= 314] issuing from the yesod [of Zeir Anpin] at the level of its heart, together with a radiance of the diminishing value of the name Eh-yeh, whose numerical value is that of the word for "blood" [dom, 44]. Together they equal the numerical value of the words for "snake" [nachash] and "breastplate" [choshen]

According to one opinion in the Talmud (Bechorot 6b), the reason a woman does not usually menstruate when nursing is because her blood is transformed into milk. Whatever this may mean physiologically, we see here a conceptual connection between blood and breastmilk.

What have gleaned from this passage is that the union of the choshen and the ephod, i.e. that of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, occurs at both an immature and mature stage. The former is the union between the emotions and thought, and the latter the union between emotions and speech.


[Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim and Ta'amei HaMitzvot, parashat Tetzaveh; 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.