This Torah portion opens with the commandment of the red heifer. The ashes of the red heifer are used to purify a person from the impurity of close contact with a dead person. "Death" is spiritually a falling from one state of divine consciousness to a lower one (or lack of one). Thus, the commandment of the red heifer contains within it the mystical explanation of evil and the purification from defilement of evil/death, i.e. loss of divine consciousness.

"This is the statute of the Torah, which G‑d spoke, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they take for you a pure, unblemished red heifer which has never worn a yoke and give it to Elazar the priest. He will take it outside the camp, and someone will slaughter it before him. Elazar the priest will take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it toward the opening of the tent of meeting seven times. Someone will burn the heifer in front of him; he will burn its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its innards'…." (Num. 19:1-5)

Know that the five final forms of the letters signify the five states of gevura. Their combined numerical value is 280, and when we add 5 for the five letters themselves, we have [285, the numerical value of] "heifer".

Five letters of the Hebrew alphabet have different forms that they assume at the end of a word. Since these final forms signal a pause in the flow of reading, they signify the five states of severity ( gevura), or restraint. The letters with their numerical values are:

mem (40), nun (50), tzadik (90), pei (80), chaf (20). 40 + 50 + 90 + 80 + 20 = 280.

"Heifer": in Hebrew, "parah" — pei-reish-hei = 80 + 200 + 5 = 285. The heifer must be red, because it is drawn from bina

Alternatively, [the extra hei, whose numerical value is the 5 needed to equal the numerical value of "heifer", and signifies that the five states of gevura] descend to bina, which is referred to by the [first] letter hei [of the name Havayah] - or descend to malchut, which is referred to by the [second] letter hei [of the name Havayah]. Therefore the heifer is called the " parah", i.e. the cow ["par"] of the hei.

Click here for continuation, Of Cows and Divine Names - Part 2.


Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim and Likutei Torah; 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.