The description of the final three plagues, that of locusts, darkness, and the slaying of the firstborn, opens with the verse:
"And G‑d said to Moses, "Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order that I place these signs of Mine within him."" (Ex. 10:1)

Pharaoh did not know about [the aspect of G‑d signified by] the Name Havayah, and in fact denied [the aspect signified by] this Name [G‑d forbid], as it is written, "I do not know G‑d [Havayah]." (Ex. 5:2) However, he did recognize [the aspect of G‑d signified by] the Name Elokim, as it is written, "It is the finger of G‑d [Elokim]." (Ex. 8:15)

The Name Havayah signifies transcendent G‑dliness, the aspect of divinity that is not limited by the laws of nature. Elokim, in contrast, signifies the aspect of divinity that G‑d uses to run the world and is thus subject to the laws of nature. The numerical value of Elokim [86] is the same as that of the word for "nature" [ha-teva]. Pharaoh was the ruler of Egypt, the Hebrew word for which [mitzrayim] literally means "limitations." Pharaoh and Egypt knew only of G‑d as present in the limited functioning of nature, the laws of cause and effect, survival of the fittest, and so on. He was therefore the archetypal antithesis to the Jewish notion of G‑d the Creator and therefore Master of nature. order for an idea to give birth to an emotion, the intellect-consciousness must be greatly reduced.

This is because Pharaoh received his sustenance [and consciousness] from the neck of Zeir Anpin, in which are present the three immature mentalities, known as [Pharaoh's] chief butcher, chief butler, and chief baker.

The consciousness of intellect is altogether different from that of emotion, so in order for an idea to give birth to an emotion, the intellect-consciousness must be greatly reduced. When this happens, and only the synoptic conclusion of the intricate intellectual development of the idea remains, the individual's consciousness is free enough of its prior intellectual preoccupation to react emotionally to the concept. However, this contraction process entails an inherent danger: that the full intellectual realization that was present when consciousness was focused on the idea will be forgotten. If this happens, then the person is vulnerable to all sorts of spurious ideas and distorted emotional responses.

Anatomically, this passage from the head to the heart is manifest as the throat. Just as the intellect must be contracted in order to become emotion, so are the head and torso bridged by the narrow neck.

The front of the head - particularly the face - reflects the full expression of the intellect (as it is written, "the wisdom of a man lights up his face" Ecclesiastes 8:1). The neck, being the back of the head, is out of touch with the this full consciousness and therefore signifies the danger of forgetting the full import of the idea as the idea travels from the head to the heart. Thus, the Hebrew for Pharoah [pei-reish-ayin-hei] is composed of the same letters that make up the word for "the neck" [in Hebrew, 'ha-oref', composed of the letters hei-ayin-reish-pei].

The three main channels descending through the throat are the trachea, the esophagus, and the jugular vein. These three are the physical manifestation of the contraction of the three mentalities of the intellect [chochma, bina, and daat] that allows for emotional response, as we have said. Inasmuch as they "feed" the mentality of Pharaoh, i.e., that of constricted divine consciousness, they are personified by his three henchmen, the chief butcher, the chief butler, and the chief baker.

The three of them are Names Elokim.

The Name Elokim signifies the contraction of divinity into the context of nature, as we said.

Since Pharaoh did not receive his sustenance from the expanded consciousness [of the intellect], which is [three] Names Havayah - for whenever they are manifest the forces of evil are annihilated - he did not know them.

As long as the full, properly developed intellectual conception of a divine idea is retained in an individual's consciousness, there is no chance for evil to make inroads into his thinking. It would be totally incongruous for evil to suggest transgressing G‑d's will or focusing on oneself when the individual's mind is filled with divine awareness. Only when the revelation of divinity [signified by the Name Havayah] has been occulted [this being signified by the Name Elokim] can evil stand a chance of derailing the individual from his intended path.

Now, even when Pharaoh acknowledged [the existence of the Name Havayah] due to the plagues that were visited upon him, he still only wanted to acknowledge the aspect judgment of the Name Havayah. This is alluded to in the verse: (Ex. 9:27) "This time I [admit that I] have sinned; G‑d [Havayah] is the righteous one, and my people and I are the wicked ones." In this verse, the initials of the words for "this time, G‑d is the righteous one, and I" [in Hebrew ha-pa'am YKVK ha-tzadik ve-ani, hei-yud-hei-vav] spell [a permutation of] the Name Havayah [KYKV], in which the first hei precedes the yud [which it normally follows], and the second hei precedes the vav [which it normally follows].

The Name Havayah, derived from the verb "to be" and thus carrying the meaning of "to bring into being," signifies the process through G‑d creates and sustains the world. The four stages of this process (contraction, expansion, descent, expansion) are represented by the four letters of the Name. When the Name is written as it usually is, this indicates the normal orderly progression of creativity. A permutation of the Name signifies some variation on this normative progression. Here, the first pair of letters of the Name are reversed and then the second pair are also reversed. was G‑d's attribute of judgment that smote them.

This [permutation of the] Name Havayah is the feminine [manifestation, that] of judgment, as is known, in which judgment prevails over mercy.

As we have explained previously, the feminine principle in creation is that which is driven to reveal and manifest divinity in the world. Since pursuing this objective entails a certain amount of danger to the individual's divine consciousness, the feminine elements of creation are endowed with a heightened sense of judgment and discernment, which enables them to identify evil in all its disguises.

This allusion also alludes to the fact that it was G‑d's attribute of judgment that smote them.

Now, G‑d wanted to subdue [Pharaoh's] heart and nullify him in order that [the forces of evil] not gain a foothold through him, and in order that the Jewish people be able to be freed from his dominion. Therefore, it was not enough that he acknowledged the Name Havayah only in its manifestation in judgment.

Pharaoh had to acknowledge the masculine aspect of the Name Havayah as well, i.e., the aspect of mercy, which is openly supernatural.

Therefore it is said, "…in order that I place these signs of Mine within him." [The word for "sign" (in Hebrew 'ot') also means "letter." The word for "signs of Mine" ('ototai') may be split into the word for "signs" (otot) and the letter yud. Since the numerical value of the letter yud is ten,] the mystical meaning is thus: "…in order that I place these ten letters within him." This refers to the full spelling-out of the Name Havayah, in which there are [usually] ten letters. For G‑d sought to fill in the Name Havayah that Pharaoh acknowledged with its inner letters, giving a total of ten letters. When [judgment] functions independently of its complement, mercy, there is clear danger of degeneration back into the constrictions of the natural order.

The spelling-out of the Name Havayah indicates the full manifestation and revelation of this Name. Pharaoh would thus be forced to acknowledge the full spectrum of meanings in the Name Havayah, and not only its aspect of judgment.

Pharaoh identified with the judgmental aspect of the Name Havayah since - even though the Name Havayah in general indicates G‑d's transcendent power that is not limited to the bonds of nature - judgment in any case implies a harsh submission to the rule of law, leaving no room for overturning the established order. When this divine attribute functions independently of its complement, mercy, there is clear danger of degeneration back into the constrictions of the natural order. This is what Pharaoh sensed - as does evil in general. This is what necessitates the extra precautions against evil attaching itself to holiness that apply to all feminine elements of all creation.

As you know, Pharaoh attaches himself [to Zeir Anpin, i.e., holiness] at the level of the Names Elokim of constricted consciousness. When the Names Havayah manifest themselves within these Names Elokim, the latter are nullified. This is the mystical meaning of "…within him": within Pharaoh himself.

The conventional translation of these words is "in his midst," or something similar. The literal translation is, however, closer to the mystical meaning of the verse.

To return to our subject: G‑d wanted to smite them from this point on using the power of the spellings-out of the Names Havayah. Now, the plagues that were going to occur after this point were that of locusts, that of darkness, that of killing the firstborn, followed by the splitting of the sea. Corresponding to these four are the four different methods of spelling-out the Name Havayah, in ascending order: The locusts came from spelling out the Name Havayah with the letter hei, giving a numerical value of 52. The darkness came from spelling out the Name with the letter alef, giving a numerical value of 45. The smiting of the firstborn came from spelling out the Name such that its numerical value is 63, and the splitting of the sea from spelling out the Name with the letter yud, giving a numerical value of 72.

As we have explained previously, there are four principle ways in which the Name Havayah can be spelled out, giving four different numerical values:







 the yud-filling






the combined filling






 the alef-filling






 the hei-filling






To explain: If you picture every letter hei as composed of three letters vav, the spelling-out that equals 52 will then equal 104.

In place of every hei (= 5) substitute three vav's (3 x 6 = 18). Thus: 52 - (4 x 5) + (4 x 18) = 52 - 20 + 72 = 104.

Now, 2 x 104 (which is the numerical value of Yitzchak) is [208,] the numerical value of the word for "locust."

Yitzchak ("Isaac"): yud-tzadik-chet-kuf = 10 + 90 + 8 + 100 = 208.

Arbeh ("locust"): alef-reish-beit-hei = 1 + 200 + 2 + 5 = 208.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "I multiplied [Abraham's] seed and I gave him Isaac." (Joshua 24:50)

The word for "I multiplied" [Hebrew 'arbeh'] is the same as the word for "locust." Presumably is this because locusts travel in swarms.

Together, ["Isaac" and "locusts"] produce the numerical value of the word "brow" [in Hebrew 'kadkod']. They represent two spellings-out of the Name Havayah, each having the numerical value of 52 and being spelled-out with the letter hei, as we have illustrated. This is the mystical meaning of the verse (Gen. 49:26) "…and as the brow of the consecrated one of his brothers," which [Jacob] said of Joseph, who was the child of his old age.

To explain: When the Names Havayah that signify expanded consciousness enter into those Names Elokim that signify constricted consciousness, the latter descend into the throat. These three Names Elokim possess 15 letters [3 x 5], 15 being the numerical value of the Name Kah [yud-hei = 10 + 5]. These subsequently descend as far as the sefira of yesod, which is personified by Joseph. There they become manifest as three times the Name Havayah spelled out to equal 52, three times 52 being [156] the numerical value of "Joseph" [in Hebrew Yosef is yud-vav-samech-pei, 10 + 6 + 60 + 80].

No more was found of this manuscript.

[Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim and Likutei Torah; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard." available at Kabbala Online Shop]

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.