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Through the lulav, we draw down supernal consciousness

Lights of the Lulav

Lights of the Lulav

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Lights of the Lulav
Through the lulav, we draw down supernal consciousness

Via the lulav, the seven kinds of chasadim [plural for chesed] of Inner Lights [ohr pnimi] enter Rachel/Nukva from Zeir Anpin - in the seven lower sefirot [i.e. from chesed to malchut], one chesed for each day of the holiday. We take up the lulav in order to…draw down the chasadim from daat of Zeir Anpin

Before Rosh Hashanah, Zeir Anpin and Nukva are connected back-to-back, as a protective measure against the External Forces. This, however, is not an ideal form of unification, or communication, and the process throughout the High Holy Days eventually brings them face-to-face, at this time possible due to negative forces' lack of influence. In brief, Zeir Anpin must first be put to sleep, i.e. his mochin, or intellectual facilities, must ascend to Imma, rendering him unconscious; this allows the separation of Zeir Anpin and Nukva to occur. After his wits return to him, and he and Nukva turn around to be face-to-face, their process of "reuniting" progresses step by step. This transpires, to a very large extent, by way of the mitzvahs of the lulav and the encirclings.

And even though each day we take up the lulav in order to draw down all these chasadim via our wavings [of the lulav], in any case we essentially only draw down one chesed each day, from above to below, i.e. the first chesed in the aspect of the sefira of chesed, the second chesed in the aspect of the sefira of gevura, etc. - until the seventh day, which is called "Hoshana Rabba" [literally the "Great Salvation"], when the all-encompassing influence of the chasadim, in malchut, enters her [Nukva]...

And the secret of the wavings [of the lulav] is that through them we draw down the chasadim from daat of Zeir Anpin, which are concealed within yesod of Imma [which is generally represented by the sukkah itself]. And through waving, the influx of the spreading forth of the chasadim descend into the seven lower sefirot of Zeir Anpin - which themselves are the secret of the lulav and its accompanying species. And from there they are drawn to Nukva, as is elaborated further [in the Writings of the Ari].

And after [the wavings], we encircle the Alter [in the times of the Holy Temple], or the lectern [since the Destruction of the Temple] once each day, with the lulav and its accompanying species; and the intention is to draw forth the aforementioned chasadim - [this time] in the aspect of Surrounding Lights [ohr makif] - to the Nukva, which is called "altar" or "lectern".

All this is in order that this Surrounding Light becomes revealed, and this is why we don't wave the lulav at the time we encircle [the lectern]. As before, with the encirclings we also have seven aspects, and each day one of these lights descends, until the completion of the seven days of the holiday. In the same way as the Inner Lights, from above [the sefira of chesed] to below [the sefira of malchut], the [Surrounding Lights] enter in the same order, like the Inner Lights. And, as has been clarified above [in the Writings of the Ari], Inner Lights always enter before surrounding lights, and therefore it is only after taking up the lulav, its wavings with the blessing, and the Thanksgiving Prayer [Hallel] that we encircle [the lectern]... The four species of the lulav hint at the four letters of the name Havayah

We will now briefly clarify some particulars of the lulav and its accompanying species, i.e. what they represent, in order that you understand the secret of the wavings:

…The four species of the lulav hint at the four letters of the name Havayah (which, in this instance is the express domain of Zeir Anpin) in the following manner: The Yud (spelled yud, vav, dalet), corresponds to chesed, gevura, and tiferet, and is represented by the three myrtle branches. [The first letter] hei (in this case spelled hei, hei) corresponds to netzach and hod, represented by the two willows. Vav [of Havayah] corresponds to yesod, the lulav.

The final hei [of Havayah, in this case spelled hei, hei], the etrog, represents the malchut [of the yesod/Zeir Anpin], i.e. the crown of the yesod, known as "the head of the tzadik", but it is not the Nukva of Zeir Anpin itself, as many have thought (for this is a common mistake), because the malchut of Zeir Anpin is itself, connected to itself. This is also hinted at by the spelling of the letter hei (hei, hei) of Havayah, while Nukva has her own name, i.e. either Elokim or Ado-nai, as is known. It is for this reason that [the etrog is referred to in the Torah as] "the fruit of the beautiful tree", meaning "the fruit" of yesod, known itself as "a beautiful tree". And its [yesod's] "fruit" is its crown.

Species Letter of Havayah Body Part Sefirot Seven Shepherds
Myrtle Yud Eyes chesed, gevura,
Abraham, Isaac,
Willow Hei Lips netzach,
Palm Branch Vav Spinal Cord yesod Joseph
Etrog Hei Crown of membrum malchut David

Adapted from Shaar Hakavanot, Sukkot, section 5
Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

Baruch Emanuel Erdstein was an associate editor of for five of the ten years he resided in the Old City of Safed, intensely studying Kabbalah He currently resides in Emmanuel, Israel. Originally from Detroit, he has an honors degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has worked in cross-cultural and Jewish education for over a decade.
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria […Ashkenazi ben Shlomo] (5294-5332 = 1534-1572 c.e.); Yahrtzeit (anniversary of death): 5th of Av. Buried in the Old Cemetery of Tzfat. Commonly known as the Ari, an acronym standing for Eloki Rabbi Yitzchak, the G-dly Rabbi Isaac. No other master or sage ever had this extra letter Aleph, standing for Eloki [G-dly], prefaced to his name. This was a sign of what his contemporaries thought of him. Later generations, fearful that this appellation might be misunderstood, said that this Aleph stood for Ashkenazi, indicating that his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had. But the original meaning is the correct one, and to this day among Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria is only referred to as Rabbenu HaAri, HaAri HaKadosh [the holy Ari] or Arizal [the Ari of blessed memory].
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