The Arizal teaches that every level of spirituality that sends its influence down is called a "seller", and every level receiving is called a "buyer". "Mecher", or "sale" in Hebrew, has a numerical value of 260, which is 10 times the name Havayah. "Kinyan", meaning "purchase", has a numerical value of 210, which is 10 times the name Eh-yeh; this name is the vessel to receive the light from the higher name of Havayah. A transaction is, therefore, a physical manifestation of a unification in the spiritual worlds.

Rabbi Elazar stood [and started his discourse about the Red Heifer with a different topic also associated with the sefira of malchut], quoting the verse: "Now this was the custom in former times in Israel regarding redeeming and concerning commerce. To confirm a transaction a man took off his shoe, and gave it to the other party; and this was the manner to authenticate a transaction among the people of Israel." (Ruth 4:7)

Witnesses would be able to testify that the parties exchanged a shoe, thus closing the deal.

The shoe…reflects his higher will by faithfully carrying his foot to where he wishes to go….

Now we should consider this verse carefully. If our ancestors made a contract using this sign and they accepted this as a Torah law, how could later generations abolish it? We know that someone who abolishes anything from the Torah is regarded as though he destroyed the whole world. Now if it [the manner of authenticating a transaction by swapping a shoe] was not a Torah law, but simply an agreed practice [recognized by the Court as proving that a transaction took place], then why use a shoe [as proof] and not something else?

However [acquisition by shoe] was certainly a Torah law [as proved from the verse from Ruth quoted above] and was done in accordance with a higher secret [from the spiritual worlds].

The physical world is the lowest expression of the One G‑d. It is the basest of the worlds and a support for them. Likewise, the shoe is at the base of a person and reflects his higher will by faithfully carrying his foot to where he wishes to go.

Now because the earlier generations were worthy and pious, this thing was apparent to them.

They were conscious that a transaction attested to by a shoe was a unification of Zeir Anpin and Malchut. They thus involved the Shechina to attest to the transaction. She is even referred to at times a "shoes" as in the verse "How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter" (Songs 7:2).

And when the wicked became more numerous in the world [and were not worthy of using this revealed secret as method of proving a transaction] a different way of attesting to a transaction was chosen. This was in order to conceal the higher secret behind the symbolism.

Thus, the Shechina was removed from attesting to the terms of a transaction that one or both of the parties might not abide to, even though they may have shaken hands on it. The blemish in the spiritual worlds caused by the wicked was therefore reduced.

Zohar, parashat Chukat, p. 180a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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