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Parshat Noach

Adapted from a discourse of Rabbi Shneur Zalman" by Rabbi Yossi Marcus


And G-d said: “There is one nation of one tongue…and now shall they be allowed…?”


In Akudim: All the sefirot are one and indistinguishable—akud, “tied” in one vessel. They are not yet divided into ten sefirot. In this world they are called “the ten hidden sefirot.”

<[The hidden sefirot are also compared to: 1) a flame as it exists hidden within the coal (see Sefer Yetzirah 1:7); 2) the abstract power of intellect as opposed to applied intellect. Derech Mitzvotecha 182a-183b.]

In Nekudim: The sefirot undergo further concealment and become more concretized. Chochmah, wisdom, of this stage can be called a wisdom that is knowable. They are now divided into ten. They are nekudim, mere “dots”—each sefirah is discrete, lacking the full configuration and amalgamation of the other sefirot within it. In this stage each sefirah can be compared to an individual letter of a word independent from its identity as a part of the whole word.

[See our essay on Vayishlach.]

In Berudim: The ten discrete sefirot are united and share energies. This is also known as the world of Tikkun, Correction. An amalgamated sefirah is called a partzuf, a face. So Chochmah in the world of Berudim is called partzuf abba, the face of father. [Father refers to Chochmah since wisdom is the progenitor of emotion.]

Ma”h. Mah means “what?”—as in Moses’ statement “and what are we?” i.e., we are naught. Thus mah, or what, symbolizes selflessness. And it is selflessness and nullification to the Infinite that creates unity.

Divine Names

Kail is in Chesed (kindness),

Elokim is in Gevurah (strength), and

Havayah (Y-H-V-H) is in Tiferet (harmony).

all sefirot, however, is Havayah. And in Tiferet, harmony, even the vessels are of Havayah.

<[Lights and vessels can be understood by a simple analogy of the power of sight and the eye. The power of sight is the light, the eye is the vessel. Intellect is the light, the brain is the vessel etc.]

[2] which, as mentioned, finds a home in unity. So although the world of Tikkun in general is a world of unity, it is Tiferet (harmony), the middle column, that creates this unity. Thus Jacob, who embodied Tiferet, drew forth the three levels of Akudim, Nekudim and Berudim, i.e., he channeled the sublime energy of Akudim even into Berudim through the Name of Ma”h.

yesh (“something”) to ayin (“nothingness”).  

Backstage Pass


Let us make for us a name i.e., let us draw from Name of Havayah.

Lest we become dispersed i.e., lest we receive from the lower level, the back of Elokim.


[1] These are the terms used to describe the various spots on the animals Jacob received from Laban (see Genesis 31:10).

[2] Havayah means Hayah hoveh v’yihiyeh k’echad (He was, is and will be as One), i.e., transcendent from time.

[3] Although Rabbi Schneur Zalman does not state it clearly, it seems that what is meant is as follows:

Elsewhere Rabbi Schneur Zalman uses the example of a seed, which contains within it the potential for the entire tree—branches, leaves, fruits, including the pit and peel of the fruit. Every aspect of the tree is contained within the seed in an undefined form that will eventually take on a concrete existence.

While in that indistinct form, the part of the seed that ultimately becomes the branch can theoretically become the fruit, while the part that becomes the fruit can become the branch. On that level all is interchangeable. By contrast, once the branch becomes a branch and the fruit becomes a fruit, there’s no turning back (see our essay on dreams (Miketz) and on the Copper Serpent (end of Mattot).)

Similarly, in the early, spiritual stages of creation [Akudim and Nekudim], when all exists in potential form, everything is interchangeable. But the world of Tikkun, structure, is compared to the fully matured tree. Here a branch is a branch and a fruit is a fruit. You cannot build a house from fruits nor eat branches.

The same is true in the realm of Torah. In the pre-Tikkun worlds, the laws of Torah are not set (see essay on Vayishlach). In Tikkun, the world of structure and order, the tree is full grown—the tefillin must be a certain shape and size; Shabbat begins at a very specific moment etc.

The Generation of the Dispersion sought to bypass the rules of Tikkun—to live without the restraints it demands. They wished, through unity, to access the pre-Tikkun reality.

< © Ascent of Safed


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