Moses' blessing to the tribe of Gad was:

"Blessed be He who expands Gad; He dwells like a young lion, and rips off the arm [of his prey] together with the skull." (Deut. 33:20)

In discussing this verse, the Arizal will refer also to Jacob's blessing to his son Gad:

"Troops will sally forth from Gad, and they will come back on their own heels." (Gen. 49:19)

What is stated in the Zohar is well-known, namely, that [the name "Gad"] alludes to "the white coriander seed." (Ex. 16:31)

The name "Gad" is also the word in Hebrew for "coriander". In the verse quoted, the manna is described as being similar in appearance to this seed.

[Concerning this,] it is stated in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 21, 54a) "Do not read [only] 'coriander' but [also 'male reproductive] organ.'"

By adding a yud to the word "gad" (which is spelled gimel-dalet), the word for "nerve", "sinew", "male reproductive organ" ("gid", spelled gimel-yud-dalet) is produced. Since the yud in "gid" serves no consonantal purpose, it can be viewed as a vowel-letter. In this way, a simple vowel change transforms "gad" into "gid". Thus, the word "gad" can justifiably be considered to phonetically allude to the word "gid".

What we gain from this is that the verse describing the manna can now be read: "…it was like the white seed of the male reproductive organ" and Moses' blessing to Gad as: "Blessed be He who expands the male reproductive organ." The Arizal will now go on to explain the mystical significance of this.

This provides the mystical meaning of the verse: "And G‑d said to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah onto the dry land." (Jonah 2:11) [This refers to] the emission of the drop [of male seed] into the place referred to as "the dry land", as it is written, "and the dry land appeared." (Gen. 1:9)

...malchut is the dry land waiting to be fertilized by the introduction of potent, fruit-producing seed….

The "dry land" is an appellation of malchut, the feminine archetype. In this imagery, malchut is the dry land waiting to be fertilized by the introduction of potent, fruit-producing seed, and/or by the drop of rain that promote growth. Similarly, malchut, the avenue of expression for divine consciousness, possesses no intrinsic content but rather awaits the "rain" of the sefirot above it (channeled through yesod, the male archetype, or specifically, the male reproductive organ) to "fertilize" it with Divine content it will then express in the world.

In the Zohar, Jonah is taken as a representation of this divine seed of consciousness because his name alludes to the process of its transmission through the sefirot. Jonah (Yonah) is spelled yud-vav-nun-hei. The yud signifies the initial flash of divine insight, chochma. The vav signifies the descent of this "seed" down the spinal column (alluded to by the straight form of the vav) as it is processed through the subsequent sefirot, all the while gaining more and more substantiation, until it reaches netzach and hod, indicated in Jonah's name by their initials, nun and hei.

This pair completes the processing of the divine insight, transforming it into a communicable idea, and passes it on to yesod either as a spiritual seed of consciousness and/or the impulse to produce physical reproductive seed. In this context, the "fish" is the male reproductive organ, which "vomits out" the seed into the world, just as Jonah, once he accepted his prophetic mission, could no longer remain in the fish, but had to emerge in order to transmit his divine insight to reality.

The "dry land", again, is malchut, the female, the means of expression, the only way the whole process can come to fruition and the divine insight can be brought productively into reality. As we have seen previously, without proper mating with the female, the spiritual or physical seed is "wasted", i.e. produces negative ("evil") energy, detracting from the collective divine consciousness of reality rather than enhancing it.

All this will be better understood by prefacing it with understanding the verse: "Gad, troops will sally forth from him, and he will return on his heel."

This verse is actually a play on words. The name Gad produces the word for "troop" (gedud) by repeating its second letter and adding the vowel-letter vav in between them: "Gad" (spelled gimel-dalet) becomes "gedud" (spelled gimel-dalet-vav-dalet). The word for "will sally forth from him" is this same word from "troop" made into a verb, as if to say, "troops will troop out of him." Finally, the word for "will return" in Hebrew, "yagud", is another form of the word "gad"/"gedud".

Here is alluded that which we said above concerning how "coriander" [gad] becomes "male reproductive organ" ["gid"].

That is, the word for "troop" [in Hebrew, "gedud"] can be seen as a combination of the word gad plus the letters vav-dalet. [Inasmuch as the numerical value of the two letters vav-dalet is 10,] this refers to the yud [whose numerical value is 10] inserted into "gad" [to form the word "gid"].

Vav = 6; dalet = 4; 6 + 4 = 10.

And this is [also alluded to in the word for] "will sally forth from him" [in Hebrew, "yegudenu"], and in fact even more so, for here we have the letter yud and its spelling-out [inserted] into the word "gad".

The word "yegudenu" is spelled yud-gimel-vav-dalet-nun-vav. The main consonantal letters are the gimel and dalet, giving its derivation from gad. In addition, we have the yud at the beginning of the word, and the vav in the middle together with the dalet (doing double duty) are the spelling-out of the yud, as we have seen.

This for the purpose of Nukva [of Zeir Anpin, so that there can be a coupling of] male and female.

The purpose of the seminal insight of for its ultimate expression via the feminine principle….

The purpose of the seminal insight of chochma traversing and being processed by the ensuing sefirot is for its ultimate expression via the feminine principle.

Possibly, the Arizal is here indicating that the last two letters of "yegudenu", the nun-vav, allude to Nukva, the first two letters of which are nun-vav.

We can now understand why [reciting] this verse [before going to sleep at night] is beneficial, in that its recital possesses the property of helping a person not to experience a wasteful emission of semen in bed.

This verse is part of the prayers recited together with the Shema before going to sleep at night.

For [in this verse,] the yud is joined with the heel, which is the place where the forces of evil can suck [their sustenance].

The heel, being a relatively bony, insensitive part of the foot, is seen as the body's weak point. (Allied to this imagery is the imagery of Jacob being injured in his hip or sciatic nerve area, which is also seen as a weak point.) It is a place where, for example, a leech could suck blood without being "noticed" as much as it would be were it to attach itself to a more sensitive part of the body. True, because it is so insensitive, the life-force present in the heel is low-grade, but this is enough to satisfy the "nutritional" needs of evil. Psychologically, all of this means that insensitivity (being a "heel") promotes the growth of evil.

In this verse, as we have seen, the yud inserted into gad to form gid is alluded to twice. The final word of the verse is the word for "heel".

[When they join], it produces the word "Jacob", rendering him complete.

The word for "heel" is "akeiv", spelled ayin-kuf-beit.

Jacob ("Yaakov") is spelled yud-ayin-kuf-beit.

The imagery of Jacob being "complete" is taken from the verse, "And Jacob came complete to the city of Shechem…" (Gen. 33:18), which follows the story of his hip being injured by the angel with whom he wrestled. (Gen. 32:24-31) Rashi states that the word "complete" here indicates that he recovered from this injury. The idea is that Jacob overcame the power of evil that tried to incapacitate him by sucking the life-force out of him at his heel/hip.

It is necessary to periodically renew the freshness of the insight….

This was done, in the context of our present discussion, by binding the force of the yud to the heel. The yud, again, is chochma, the initial flash of insight. This flash, this pristine moment of enlightenment and expansion of the horizon of divine consciousness, often gets obscured as it is processed by the subsequent sefirot. Although this processing is necessary in order to bring the implications of the insight into practical reality, the dimming of its intensity in the process can leave the person or the process open to the attack of evil. In other words, the person can lose sight of the original thrust of the insight and allow the intellectual or emotional development it spawns to be sidetracked into selfish or worldly directions.

Therefore it is necessary to periodically renew the freshness of the insight by recalling the initial moment of insight, the epiphany. Doing this helps to keep the development of the insight on track. The intellectual and emotional development is infused with the original, transcendent holiness of the experience; we remember that, yes, G‑d was at the center of this insight, and this renders us immune to the machinations of evil.

Jacob's blessing to Gad can thus be read as "Gad [yesod] will be infused with the yud [chochma, rendering it gedud] once and again [rendering it yegudenu], for the purpose of coupling with Nukva, and thus it will overcome the power of evil [that can enter via the heel]."

And thus the power of evil is left with no entry into the realm of holiness, G‑d forbid.

This verse thus describes how evil is not allowed entry into holiness, preventing evil thoughts from intruding on a person's holiness while he sleeps. Interestingly, part of the blessing recited before going to sleep is the phrase, "and may my bed be complete before You." The Rabbinic imagery of "the bed being complete" refers to how Jacob's progeny (the result of his marital relations, euphemistically referred to in Rabbinic literature as "the use of the bed") were completely holy. Unlike Abraham who fathered Ishmael and Isaac who fathered Esau, all of Jacob's offspring remained true to his Jewish ideals. Here is another example of the concept of evil not being allowed entry into the realm of holiness being associated with Jacob.

We can now understand why Jacob gave this blessing to Gad, for Gad [personified yesod, which] is situated in the area of the legs, which include the heel.

Since the heel is the point of vulnerability to evil, Gad, who personified yesod, needed the blessing of "military strength" - here described as the ability to bind the yud to the heel - to resist evil's power.

Moses had the same intention in his blessing [to Gad], when he said, "Blessed be He who expands Gad," for the word for "He who expands" can be read as "He who joins the yud," [and the phrase can thus be read, "Blessed be He who joins the yud] to Gad, rendering it "gid", capable of transmitting [the male seed] into Nukva."

The word for "He who expands" is "marchiv", spelled mem-reish-chet-yud-beit. The word for "He who joins" is "mechaber", spelled mem-chet-beit-reish. Thus "marchiv" can be reread as "mechaber yud", "He who joins the yud."

For the word for "He who expands" can also be read as "yud in the womb", referring to the drop [of male seed].

The word for "womb" is "rechem", spelled reish-chet-mem; "in the womb" is "be-rechem" (beit-reish-chet-mem). "Marchiv" can thus be read as "yud be-rechem", "yud in the womb."

Using these two readings of "marchiv", the phrase thus reads: "Blessed be He who joins the yud to Gad [rendering it 'gid' - yesod fortified by the insight of chochma - capable of safely positing] the yud [the initial insight of chochma] into the womb [of the female]."

This expansion [of yesod] occurs also via the womb -

The word "into the womb" ("be-rechem") can also be read as "by means of the womb"...

...the numerical value of the name "Abraham" is the same as that of the word for "womb"…

...this being the mystical significance of the fact that the numerical value of the name "Abraham" is the same as that of the word for "womb", indicating that the drop [of male seed] is produced by chesed, personified by Abraham.

"Abraham" (in Hebrew, "Avraham") is spelled alef-beit-reish-hei-mem = 1 + 2 + 200 + 5 + 40 = 248.

"Womb" (in hebrew, "rechem") is spelled reish-cheit-mem = 200 + 8 + 40 = 248.

Abraham personified chesed, loving-kindness, or love in general. This equivalence thus reflects the fact that the husband's love for his wife (i.e., her feminine capacity to express what he, being male, cannot - this being the essence of her womb) is what renders his reproductive organ capable of transmitting his seed into her womb. We have seen previously how the attraction between male and female is in essence the sense of mutual completion each grants the other in their intrinsic desire to make this world a home for G‑d. The husband is attracted to the wife's drive to bring this idea to fruition; the wife is attracted to the husband's drive to renew the inspiration.

The full understanding of the phrase, "Blessed be He who expands Gad" is now: "Blessed be He who joins the yud to Gad [rendering it 'gid' - yesod fortified by the insight of chochma - capable of safely positing] the yud [the initial insight of chochma] into the womb [of the female], all this by means of the love and attraction the male [the insight and its development] feels for the female [the power expression and concretization concentrated in the womb].

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah, parashat Zot HaBracha; 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.