Of the twelve spies sent to spy out the land, as described in the beginning of this parasha, only Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to G‑d's mission. The rest fell prey to their fear of the land and its inhabitants.

Regarding the mystical significance of Caleb, the son of Yefuneh, I first found it written that the numerical value of "Calav, the son of [King] David" (Samuel II 3:3) is [53] the same as the numerical value of [one of the spellings-out of] the name Havayah [plus the kolel].

"Calav" is spelled: kaf-lamed-alef-beit = 20 + 30 + 1 + 2 = 53.

The name Havayah, as we have seen previously, is spelled out in 4 basic ways, such that it yields the numerical values of 72, 63, 45, and 52. The above equals the name referred to as "Ban", 52: yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

I then found it written that this is [also] the mystical significance of Caleb, the son of Yefuneh. It could well be that they are both incarnations of the same soul.

The numerical value of "Caleb" is exactly 52: kaf-lamed-beit = 20 + 30 + 2 = 52.

Know that the soul of Caleb originated in that of Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, for Eliezer left the curse of "cursed be Canaan" (Gen. 9:25) when Laban said to him "Come, O blessed of G‑d." Had this not been decreed in heaven, it would not have been recorded in the Torah. At this point, [Eliezer] became blessed.

Eliezer was a descendant of Canaan, the fourth son of Noah's son Ham. Noah cursed Canaan after Ham castrated Noah. In the same episode, Noah blessed his son Shem: "Blessed be G‑d, the G‑d of Shem."

Eliezer's transference from cursed to blessed allowed him to be reincarnated as Caleb….

Abraham sent Eliezer to his nephew, Bethuel, to find a match for his son, Isaac. We are told that Eliezer in fact wanted his daughter to marry Isaac, but Abraham told him, "You are cursed [because you are a descendent of Canaan] and I am blessed [because I am a descendent of Shem]. He who is cursed cannot cling to he who is blessed." (See Rashi on Gen. 24:39)

Bethuel's son was Laban, Rebecca's brother. Although Laban was wicked, and therefore his words could not affect reality the way a righteous person's can, the Arizal says that the fact that the Torah takes the trouble to record Laban's greeting means that it in this case, the reverse was true: because on the spiritual level, Eliezer had already been gone from being cursed to being blessed, Laban was able to intuit this and unknowingly articulated it, thereby causing it to take effect on the physical plane, as well.

Eliezer's transference from cursed to blessed allowed him to be reincarnated as Caleb.

Therefore, because of this ascent that he [accomplished in Eliezer] when he said "Come, O blessed of G‑d," [Laban] was reincarnated as Naval the Carmelite. [This is indicated by the fact that] the letters that spell their names are the same.

"Laban" is spelled: lamed-beit-nun; "Naval" is spelled: nun-beit-lamed.

Naval the Carmelite was Abigail's first husband, before she married King David. (Samuel I 25) Her son through King David was Calav, mentioned above. (Samuel II 3:3)

Therefore our sages stated on the verse, "For the choirmaster, upon the death of Laban" (Psalms 9:1), that Laban [in this verse] is actually Naval. (Midrash Tehilim 9:17)

This is also alluded to by the fact that Caleb is called "the son of Yefuneh", i.e. the "son" of [Laban] the one who said, "I have emptied [in Hebrew, 'paniti'] the house."

When Laban invited Eliezer into his home, he said, "Come, O blessed of G‑d. Why do you stand outside? I have emptied the house and there is place for the camels." (Gen. 24:31) Rashi on this verse says that the words "I have emptied the house" mean "I have removed all the idols, so you can now enter it."

The root of the word for "I have emptied" ("paniti") is "paneh", which is also the root of the name Yefuneh. By calling Caleb "the son of Yefuneh", the Torah thus alludes mystically to the fact that Caleb was a reincarnation ("son") of the one who emptied his house, Laban.

The Sages further stated that [the name Yefuneh alludes to the fact that Caleb] "turned away from the scheme of the spies." (Sotah 11b)

The root "paneh" also means "to turn away".

Through Laban's blessing, Eliezer was reincarnated into Caleb….

Through Laban's blessing, Eliezer was reincarnated into Caleb, and is therefore considered Laban's "son".

The mystical significance of Caleb is that the numerical value of his name is the same as that of the name Havayah when spelled out to equal 52 [as stated above].

The mystical significance of this name is that it is "the spirit that enters the female" [in order to enable it] to arouse [the male with] feminine waters. As we explained [in reference to the Zohar's statement that] "there is no arousal of feminine waters until a spirit from the male enters her."

As we have seen previously, the four spellings-out of the name Havayah correspond to the four partzufim Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva. Thus, the name Havayah whose numerical value is 52 corresponds to the feminine principle, Nukva.

"Feminine waters" is the Zoharic term for "arousal from below", the recipient's arousal of the giver to give.

This is the mystical correlate to the first marital intercourse [between a couple], for our sages have noted that "a woman cannot become pregnant from her first marital union." (Yevamot 34a )

"To become pregnant" here is mystically understood to mean "to be able to produce a spiritual arousal" of the male. In the first, virginal intercourse, the male seed does not impregnate the female, and she cannot produce.

This name alludes to malchut as she is postured back to back [with Zeir Anpin], for then "she separates his and her arms and legs [from each other]." Therefore, this name [takes the form of] four opposite four, i.e. four letters on the masculine side and four on the feminine side, to indicate his and her arms and legs.

Presumably in this depiction, the vav-dalet of the spelling out of the yud is considered one letter. We thus have:











Based on the mystical meaning of this name, Benjamin was called "the son of the right." Of him, it is written, "When [Rachel's] soul departed [in childbirth], for she died, she named him 'Ben-oni' [literally 'the son of my affliction'], but [Jacob] his father, called him Benjamin." (Gen. 35:18)

Benjamin was the last son born to Jacob, and the only one born in the Land of Israel, which lies south of Padan-Aram (modern-day Syria), where all his other sons were born. Therefore, in order to change his son's name to one that had positive connotations yet still preserved some alliteration to the name Rachel gave him, he called him "the son of the right" (in Hebrew, "ben-yamin"), for the in the Torah's orientation (that of a person standing in the holy of holies and looking outward toward the world), the south is on the left.

Rachel personified Nukva, the feminine archetype….

Now, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "son", "ben", is 52 (ben is spelled: beit-nun = 2 + 50 = 52). Thus, the names given by Rachel and Jacob to Benjamin in this verse can be understood to mean "The spelling-out of the name Havayah that equals 52 is my affliction" and "The spelling-out of the name Havayah that equals 52 is on the right", respectively.

For this name arouses feminine waters [as we have said], and is therefore called "her soul."

As we have seen previously, Rachel personified Nukva, the feminine archetype. The phrase "When her soul departed" can thus mean, "when the 52-Name departs the female."

Since, however, this name indicates the posture of back-to-back, it is easy for the powers of evil to gain a foothold through it.

When Zeir Anpin and Nukva are back-to-back, their attention and energies are not focused on each other. It is thus a prime opportunity for the powers of evil to try to divert some of their energies to themselves.

This lack of communication was the proverbial recipe for disaster….

Interestingly, we are taught that Rachel had hidden her father Laban's idols in her saddle in the vain hope that this would force him to give up idolatry. She had not told Jacob about this plan, however, and therefore, when Laban accused him of stealing his idols, Jacob said, "The one with whom you find your idols will die," and from that curse, Rachel died later in childbirth. Rachel's failure to include her husband in her scheme recalls Adam's failure to communicate with Eve and indicated a lack of communication - a back-to-back stature - between them. This lack of communication was the proverbial recipe for disaster, the opportunity for the forces of evil to cause tragic damage.

His mother therefore called him "the son of my affliction."

This was because this Name indicates the back-to-back posture.

But his father called him Benjamin, in order to connect him to the right side, i.e. reflecting the fact that the numerical value of the word for "please" [in Hebrew, "ana"] is also 52.

Jacob was thus associated Benjamin with a positive aspect of the value 52, instead of the less favorable association of 52 with the spelling-out of the Name that is prone to invasion by evil. The word for "please" used here is the word used in prayers for G‑d's mercy and kindness, thus focusing on the right side of the sefirotic tree, the side of chesed.

"Ana" is spelled: alef-nun-alef = 1 + 50 + 1 = 52.

[This supplication] is the self-sacrifice we espouse in Tachanun.

Tachanun ["supplications"] is the part of the liturgy that follows the Standing Prayer in the weekday Morning and Afternoon Prayers, consisting of various appeals for G‑d's mercy on us as individuals and as a nation. In the verses and prayers that compose this liturgy, we make repeated mention of the fact that we have throughout history many times given up our lives for G‑d, and in this merit we ask G‑d to show us mercy today.

Thus, the combined numerical value of the initials of [the highlighted words in] the phrase, "Unto You, O G‑d, I lift up my soul; my G‑d…" (Psalms 25:1-2) is 52.

The highlighted words are: nafshi esa Elo-hai, the initials of which are nun-alef-alef = 50 + 1 + 1 = 52.

In this connection, we will now explain the mystical significance of Tachanun, in which the supplicant falls to the world of Asiya from the world of Atzilut, where he was during the Standing Prayer.

Let us first note with regard to the following three spellings-out of the name Havayah:

Yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-alef-vav hei-yud indicates the supernal [partzuf of] Imma, which rests in the "Throne" [i.e. the world of Beriya].

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 10) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 10) = 63.

Yud-vav-dalet hei-alef vav-alef-vav hei-alef indicates Zeir Anpin, which rests in [the world of] Yetzira.

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 1) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 1) = 45.

And Yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei indicates malchut, which rests in [the world of] Asiya.

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

Now, when [the Psalmist] says, "Unto You, O G‑d, I lift up my soul," he connects Asiya with Yetzira and Yetzira with Beriya, via these three names.

"My soul", we said, was the soul of Nukva, the 52-Name. This is "lifted up" through prayer to the 45-Name and the 63-Name, which are associated with Yetzira and Beriya, respectively.

Then, [the soul enters] malchut of Atzilut, i.e. the 52-Name within [Atzilut].

Through Tachanun, the soul re-ascends into the world of Atzilut from which it fell….

Just as the four spellings out correspond to the four worlds, they also correspond to the four levels of each world. The 52-Name thus corresponds to the world of Asiya in general and also to the sub-world of Asiya within the general world of Atzilut, i.e. with malchut of Atzilut. Thus, through Tachanun, the soul re-ascends into the world of Atzilut from which it fell after finishing the Standing Prayer.

It then becomes "feminine waters".

Once it assumes the identity of the feminine archetype of Atzilut, it can arouse the male archetype, Zeir Anpin, to channel divine beneficence to it.

The soul "falls" after the Standing Prayer because the intense awareness of G‑d it achieves therein, i.e. the consciousness of the world of Atzilut, makes it keenly aware of its shortcomings in the "real world," i.e. its day-to-day affairs in life. This awareness is brought into full relief only when compared with the ideal divine consciousness achieved in the Standing Prayer.

Now, by understanding the mystical meaning of Benjamin that I have explained, we can understand why Rachel was not buried in the Cave [of Machpelah].

Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah were all buried in the Machpelah cave in Hebron. Rachel, in contrast, was buried to the north, at the outskirts of Bethlehem.

To explain: the whole mystical meaning of burial is that an entity disappears into another entity lower than it.

When Jacob was buried, he disappeared into Yetzira; when Rachel was buried, she disappeared into Asiya; when Leah was buried, she disappeared into Beriya.

All three began in Atzilut, but they each "fell" to differing degrees. Inasmuch as Jacob personified Zeir Anpin, the midot of Atzilut, he fell into the world of the midot, Yetzira. Leah personified Imma, the intellect, so she fell into the world of intellect, Beriya. Rachel personified Nukva, expression, so she fell into the world of expression, Asiya.

Now, had not Jacob's descent been preceded by Benjamin's birth and Rachel's [untimely] death, in which "her soul departed, for she died", it would have been possible for Asiya to disappear [back] into Yetzira and Yetzira [back] into Beriya. All of their souls would have then been able to converse with each other.

The circumstances surrounding Rachel's death meant that she had lost her connection to Jacob. Had she merely fallen to Asiya but still retained her connection to Jacob, she would have been able to use that connection to ascend back to Yetzira (where he fell to) and then with him back up to Beriya (where Leah was).

But Rachel's spirit had already departed, and the spirit he had given her did not remain so that he might communicate with her.

In a sense, she had reverted to her virginal status, her connection to her husband not being able to produce any arousal in him, as we described above.

Therefore she was buried on the road, and Jacob disappeared [when he died] [back] into Beriya with Leah, and the two of them converse together [in the cave].

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.