Parashat Chukat-Balak / פרשת חקת־בלק

“This is the ordinance of the Torah” Rabbi Yosi draws a distinction between the Torah itself, that is Zeir Anpin, and the law of the Torah, that is Malchut. Rabbi Yehuda says that the verse, “and this is the Torah,” means a union of total perfection, including male and female, but the verse, “this is the ordinance of the Torah,” means Malchut without Zeir Anpin.1. “And Hashem spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘This is the ordinance of the Torah which Hashem has commanded'” (Bemidbar 19:1-2). Rabbi Yosi opened the discussion saying: “and this is the Torah which Moses set before the children of Yisrael” (Devarim 4:44). Come and behold: the words of the Torah are holy, lofty, and sweet, as it is written: “more to be desired are they than gold, and much fine gold: sweeter also than honey…” (Tehilim 19:11). It is as if whoever studies the Torah stands every day at Mount Sinai and receives the Torah. This is what it says: “this day you are become a people” (Devarim 27:9). And the friends have already set the explanation.2. It is written here: “this is the ordinance of the Torah,” and it is also, “and this is the Torah,” BUT IT IS NOT WRITTEN, ‘THE ORDINANCE’. What is the difference between this and that? HE RESPONDS: It is a lofty secret and that is what we learned. The words, “and this is the Torah,” are to show that all is in one unison and to unite the Congregation of Yisrael, THAT IS MALCHUT, with the Holy One, blessed be He, THAT IS ZEIR ANPIN, so that all will be one. Therefore, “and this is the Torah.” Why is there the addition of “and” (Heb. Vav), TO “this”? It is only to show that as we are taught, all is one without division. The words, “and this,” indicate the general and the particular, NAMELY male and female combined together, SINCE VAV IS MALE, THAT IS ZEIR ANPIN, WHICH IS GENERAL – AND “THIS” IS FEMALE, MEANING MALCHUT, WHICH IS PARTICULAR. Therefore, it is assuredly WRITTEN: “and this is the Torah,” TO INDICATE ZEIR ANPIN AND THE NUKVA IN ONE UNISON. However, “this,” without the additional Vav is specifically the ordinance of the Torah, WHICH IS MALCHUT THAT IS CONSIDERED THE ORDINANCE. AND it EMANATES FROM ZEIR ANPIN, WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE TORAH, but is not the Torah ITSELF, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. It is ONLY the law of the Torah, the decree of Torah, WHICH IS MALCHUT.3. Come and behold: IT IS WRITTEN, “this is that which belongs to the Levites” (Bemidbar 8:24). It is not WRITTEN, ‘and this,’ WITH A VAV, since they emerge from the side of Judgment, WHICH IS FROM THE LEFT SIDE AND FROM THE SIDE OF MALCHUT THAT IS ERECTED FROM THE LEFT, and not from the angle of Compassion, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. THEREFORE, “THIS” IT IS WRITTEN WITHOUT A VAV, MEANING MALCHUT WITHOUT ZEIR ANPIN. Rabbi Yehuda said: Yet it is written, “and this do to them, that they may live” (Bemidbar 4:19). Here, “THIS” IS WITH A VAV, and it is said about the Levites, and yet you say THAT THE LEVITES ARE THE ASPECT OF “this,” and not of, “and this.” He said to him: It is most certainly so, THAT THEY ARE IN THE ASPECT OF, “AND THIS.” The scripture proves that whoever holds on to deadly poison spices but does not blend into it life-giving spices will certainly die. Therefore, IT IS WRITTEN: “And this do to them, that they may live,” MEANING THAT “THIS,” WHICH IS THE SECRET OF MALCHUT, CONSIDERED THE TREE OF DEATH, SHOULD JOIN WITH VAV, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, THE TREE OF LIFE. “…and not die…” (Ibid.) This is because the spice of life is mixed with it. THEREFORE, “and this do to them, that they may live, and not die,” since they require, “and this,” and not ‘this’. THEREFORE, the verse: “and this is the Torah,” INDICATES that it really is actually in one union, a union of total perfection, male and female in one inclusion; THAT IS THE SECRET OF Vav-Hei. However, “this,” ALONE WITHOUT THE VAV, is a Hei alone WITHOUT A VAV, THAT IS, MALCHUT WITHOUT ZEIR ANPIN. About this, it IS WRITTEN: “this is the ordinance of the Torah.

“A man pulled off his shoe” The rabbis discuss the preceding verse and also the verse that speaks about redeeming and exchanging and sealing the bargain by means of the removal of the shoe. Rabbi Elazar cites God’s commandment to Moses to take off his shoes, meaning that he commanded him to separate from his wife and join the Shechinah instead. He says that whoever takes the shoe sends the one who gave him the shoe to another world, and that whenever someone draws off his shoe and gives it to another in order to seal a transaction, he is doing this by a decree from above. Rabbi Elazar mentions the drawing off of the sandal at the time of levirate marriage as well, and explains that the widow accepts the shoe to indicate that her dead husband returns among the living. The conclusion to be drawn is that the exchange of the shoe is not just an agreed concensus but is in fact indicating support from the higher grades.4. Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Aba, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Yitzchak were in the house of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. Rabbi Pinchas spoke to Rabbi Shimon saying: I beg of you, you who are appointed from above, to speak openly about that which no other person was permitted to speak. Say something new about this passage. He said to him: Which passage is it? He said to him: “This is the ordinance of the Torah” (Bemidbar 19:2). He said to him: Here are the other friends, let them speak. He told his son, Rabbi Elazar: Elazar, stand up and say something about this passage. Then the friends will speak after you.5. Rabbi Elazar stood up and spoke: “Now this was the custom in former times in Yisrael concerning redeeming and concerning exchanging, to confirm…” (Rut 4:7). This scriptural verse must be studied carefully. If the earlier ones have made this consensual agreement, TO BUY EVERYTHING THROUGH A SHOE, according to the law of Torah, and the latter ones came and voided it, WE MUST INQUIRE why it was made void. Is not one who abrogates any matter in the Torah considered as if he destroys the whole world? If it is not a Torah law but merely an agreed consensus, THE QUESTION IS why SPECIFICALLY a shoe was used here, AND NOT ANY OTHER METHOD.6. HE RESPONDS: It was most certainly according to the law of the Torah, and it was done with a lofty secret. Because the earlier were pious and just, this matter was revealed and known among them. And when the wicked increased in the world, this matter was accomplished in a different manner, in order to cover these matters which are in accordance with a lofty secret.7. Come and behold: it is written, “and he said, ‘Do not come near: put off your shoes from off your feet…'” (Shemot 3:5). HE ASKS: Why is the shoe specifically mentioned here? HE RESPONDS: It is the way we were taught, that He commanded him to separate from his wife and join another woman of the light of the holy up high.

  • The bird (Tzipor) Rabbi Shimon says that Balak saw a real vision with the eyes of Wisdom, and that he saw it through one of the windows to Chochmah. We learn that Balak was a son of Tzipor, meaning bird, and that all his witchcraft was done through birds. Rabbi Shimon describes the origin and nature of the bird that he used for his sorcery, and says that that name of the bird was Yadua, meaning ‘known’. Balak knew everything through the bird, which spoke great things on her own.1. “And Balak the son of Tzipor saw” (Bemidbar 22:2). Rabbi Shimon said, he “saw.” What did he see? HE RESPONDS: It is definitely a real vision. He perceived through the gaze of Chochmah and he saw with his eyes, MEANING THE EYES OF CHOCHMAH. He noticed through the perception of wisdom, as it says that “Abimelech, king of the Philistines looked out at a window” (Beresheet 26:8). What is the meaning of: “out at a window”? It is as is written: “The mother of Sisera looked out at the window” (Shoftim 5:28). It is assuredly the window of Chochmah at the corner edges of the stars. THAT IS THE WINDOW THAT IS MENTIONED WITH REFERENCE TO SISERA’S MOTHER AND ABIMELECH, and these are the windows TO Chochmah, MEANING THAT THERE EXIST MANY WINDOWS and there is one window where all wisdom prevails. Whoever looks at the root of the Chochmah can look through it. Here too: “And Balak…saw” through his Chochmah, MEANING HIS OWN PRIVATE WINDOW.2. “The son of Tzipor” is as they said, THAT HE WAS A DESCENDANT OF JETHRO WHO WAS ALSO CALLED ‘TZIPOR’. However, he was “the son of Tzipor (lit. ‘bird’)” actually, MEANING THAT ALL HIS DEALINGS WERE WITH BIRDS, since his witchcraft dealt with a variety of that bird. He took a bird, struck the grass, and let it fly in the air. He performed acts and whispered incantations, and the bird would return with the grass in its mouth, chirping for him. He would then put her into a cage and burn incense for her, and she would inform him of some things. He would then perform witchcraft and that fowl, MEANING THE BIRD, chirped and flew and wandered in accordance with the one whose eyes were open, who gave her his message, and she would return. All his words came through that bird.3. One day, he performed his acts and took the bird. She flew away and left, tarried and did not return TO HIM. Balak was saddened and, before her return, saw a flame of fire that flew AFTER THE BIRD and scorched her wings. He then saw what he saw and was afraid of the children of Yisrael. What is the name of that bird? It is Yadua (Eng. ‘known’). None of those who make use of and know how to make use of that bird know its witchcraft as well as Balak knew it.4. All of the wisdom that he acquired came from that bird. This is what he used to do: he bowed down before THE BIRD and burned incense, covered his head, bent over and spoke. He would say, ‘The nation’. And the bird would reply to him, ‘Yisrael’. He would say, ‘Much’, and the bird would respond, ‘Many (Heb. rav)’ in commemoration of the great one (Heb. rav) that traveled among them. They whispered to each other seventy times, BALAK AND THE BIRD. He would say, ‘poor’. And the bird would say, ‘Much (Heb. rav)’. He then was afraid, as is written: “And Moab was sore (much) afraid of the people, because they were many (Heb. rav)” (Bemidbar 22:3), assuredly rav.
  • In the variety of witchcraft of ancient Kasdiel, we first found that this bird was produced at specific times from silver mixed with gold. SILVER IS THE SECRET RIGHT COLUMN, CHASSADIM, AND GOLD IS THE LEFT COLUMN, CHOCHMAH, AND THEY USED IT TO PRODUCE AND PUT TOGETHER THAT BIRD TO BE LIKENED TO HOLINESS, AS A MONKEY TO PEOPLE. JUST LIKE IN HOLINESS CHOCHMAH OF THE LEFT IS BLENDED WITH CHASSADIM OF THE RIGHT, THEY WANTED TO DRAW IT THAT WAY. HOWEVER, SINCE THEY HAVE NO POWER OF UNIFICATION OF THE CENTRAL COLUMN, EVERYTHING RESULTS IN THE ASPECT OF REFUSE. The head, THE FIRST THREE SFIROT OF THE BIRD, is from gold, MEANING THE REFUSE OF GOLD. Her mouth is from silver, MEANING FROM SILVER REFUSE, and her wings, CHESED AND GVURAH, from light copper, THAT IS LEFT, blended with silver, THAT IS RIGHT, since each one IS COMPRISED OF RIGHT AND LEFT. The body is of gold with round points of silver in her feathers. Her legs, NETZACH, HOD AND YESOD, are from gold and they place in her mouth the tongue of that bird Yadua, SINCE THE TONGUE IS DA’AT. AND SINCE THE KLIPOT HAVE NO DA’AT, THEY HAVE INSTEAD YADUA (ENG. ‘KNOWN’).6. They place that bird in that one window, OF THE ONES MENTIONED ABOVE, AND DURING THE DAY they open the window in the direction of the sun THAT RULES BY DAY. At night, they open the window in the direction of the moon, WHICH RULES BY NIGHT, and they burn incense and perform witchcraft. DURING THE DAY, they conjure the sun TO BESTOW ITS ABUNDANCE and at night they conjure the moon. And so they perform for seven days. From then on, that tongue is already rattling in the mouth of the bird, BUT IS STILL UNABLE TO SPEAK. THEN they puncture her tongue with a golden needle and she speaks great things on her own. Everything that Balak knew came from that bird. Therefore, HE WAS CALLED ‘the son of bird’ and he saw what other people were unable to know and could not see.2. Sihon and Og Rabbi Shimon says that God can do anything immediately, but because people don’t fully believe, they think that it will take years to fulfill a wish, and so it does. Although the lives of people are fleeting, they are sanctified with repentance and prayer and good deeds and tears, since God commits Himself to do as they wish. We hear about Og the King of Bashan and Sihon the King of the Amorites, with whom Moses waged war. Sihon was destroyed by a flame from the King of Heaven and it could not therefore be rebuilt. Rabbi Shimon says that the children of Yisrael overthrew the rulers below in this world and also in the world above. He tells us why Esau did not receive his birthright even though he was the eldest.7. It is written: “Hashem said, ‘I will bring back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea'” (Tehilim 68:23). We must pay attention to the Faith in the Holy One, blessed be He, since all His words are spoken with truth and great Faith. As soon as He utters something, it is immediately completely accomplished. If a person who is narrow of heart says that it will take several years, and much time to fulfill his wish, that is what happens. THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, in accord with His dominion that all the universe is filled with His glory, reflects His way. A person’s words are of small consequence and all his words are of a temporary nature. Similarly, he himself is of a temporary nature, LIKE A PASSING SHADOW. However, he is sanctified with repentance and prayer and good deeds and lots of tears, SINCE the Supernal One who is higher than all the world lights His lamp and contracts His Holiness to that person to do his wish.