G‑d came from Sinai - He shone forth to them from Seir, He appeared from Mount Paran, and approached from the holy ten thousands - from His right hand He presented the fiery Torah to them. (Deut. 33:2)

The simple meaning of the verse speaks of the manner in which G‑d gave the Torah to Israel at Sinai. He first "shone forth to Seir", i.e. offered the Torah to the descendants of Esau, and then "appeared from Mount Paran", i.e. offered it to the Ishmaelites; in the end only Israel chose to receive it. The following is a mystical explanation of the words "approached from the holy ten thousands".

The greatest number in Hebrew is "rivava" - ten thousand. There is no greater number in the Holy Tongue. Anything over ten thousand is not given a specific name in the Torah, but rather is referred to as a certain amount of thousands or a certain amount of rivavot.

To explain the significance of these units, we will introduce the following verse:

And the life of Sarah was 100 year, 20 year, and 7 years. (Gen. 23:1)

In Hebrew, the singular can often be used in place of the plural. Rabbi Schneur Zalman, however, interprets the use of the singular word "year", in Hebrew "shana", in a literal sense to derive a mystical truth.

Ones and Tens

The number seven in the above verse corresponds to the seven supernal emotions (i.e. middot or sefirot) - chesed, gevura, etc. They are therefore referred to in the plural, "…seven years", since the emotions are individualistic (each with its own unique and distinct characteristics) and create a plurality. In order for the intellect to be expressed in emotion, only a tenth of the intellect's light can be revealed…

The number twenty in the verse corresponds to chochma and bina. Each one is ten. These are referred to in the singular, i.e. "…20 year", since chochma and bina are "two friends that never part." (Zohar II 56a, III 4a) For example, when a person understands a Torah law with his intellect, the experience involves both chochma and bina.

In any event, we can derive from here that the emotions (the seven "lower" sefirot) are ones, whereas the attributes of the intellect (chochma and bina) are tens. This is so because in order for the intellect to be expressed in emotion, only a tenth of the intellect's light can be revealed. As is common knowledge, there is no comparison between intellect in its capacity as a reason for an emotion, to the essence of intellect which does not relate to emotion at all. This is because the intellect's essence is entirely beyond any interaction with emotion; the lower aspects of intellect do relate to emotion in the capacity of being a reason or a cause for a particular emotion, i.e. when one understands intellectually the virtue of a given thing, one develops an emotion of love toward it. Thus each emotion is a tenth of the intellect.

Similarly it is said of the name E-l, which represents the divine attribute of Kindness, that it is "the light [or reflection] of chochma." (Zohar I 94a) The name E-l (spelled alef, lamed, which has a numerical value 31) is therefore numerically equivalent to one tenth of the word for "existence" - "yesh" (spelled yud, shin, which has a numerical value 310). The word "yesh" is the numeric equivalent of two times the word "k'nei" (spelled kuf, nun, hei, which has a numerical value of 155), as in the verse "K'neichochma, K'nei bina…" - "Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding…."(Proverbs 4:5)

Will and Desire

The five levels of the soul - Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, Yechida - correspond to these five units: 1 / 10 / 100 / 1,000 / 10,000. Nefesh is one and receives only a tenth of Ruach, which is ten and derives from Neshama, etc. Intellect, i.e. chochma and bina, is also a tenth of what is above it, which is called "one-hundred". Thus our Sages of blessed memory say of Adam that he was one hundred cubits tall. (Chagiga, 12a, Sanhedrin 100a) This alludes to the idea that he was on the level of "one hundred", i.e., beyond intellect. Delight is the most expansive and far-reaching of all the powers of the soul…

The supernal will is beyond Adam's level and contains two levels of its own: Will and Desire. Will contains neither "taste" nor delight. It is expressed in the saying, "Be silent—so it has arisen in the supernal Thought." (Menachot 29b) This was the response G‑d gave to Moses to the question of "why do the righteous suffer" after Moses had seen prophetically the torture of Rabbi Akiva at the hands of the Romans.

Desire, on the other hand, involves "taste" and delight. We see on the human level that Delight is the most expansive and far-reaching of all the powers of the soul. Delight is experienced by each of the senses, as well as by intellect and emotions.

There are many varieties of delight; in the same way that the nature of the delight of sight is different than the way it is experienced in hearing, similarly the delight of intellect is of a different character. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that all the delight that is experienced on the terrestrial level is only from what fell from "the shattering of the vessels" [Shevirat haKelim].

Thus Will corresponds to one thousand, while Desire corresponds to ten thousand, since Desire contains delight which is more abundant and more sublime, so that Will is only a tenth of Desire.

Torah and Ten-thousands

Now the source of Torah is the level of ten thousands (rivavot), as in our verse, which describes the giving of the Torah as G‑d approaching "from the holy ten thousands."

This is because Torah originates in such a lofty source that it can be drawn and lowered even below into physical reality.

Note that the revelation through Torah from the "ten thousands" that takes place now is external. The reasons of the Torah, its inner dimension, are not yet revealed. At this point we experience only an external revelation of Torah. This is signified by the use of an Aramaic word in our verse: "v'attah", meaning "He approached". The use of a non-Hebrew word signifies the fact that it is only an external revelation.

The revelation of the inner secrets will take place in the future. This is what is meant by the verse "Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth," (Songs 1:2) because kissing achieves the attachment of one breath to another, an allusion to the revelation of the inner reasons of the Torah. May we experience it soon.

Adapted from Likutei Torah

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.