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Via the Kings of Edom, Kabbalah explains the healing process of the entire Creation

Royal Rectifications

Royal Rectifications

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Royal Rectifications
Via the Kings of Edom, Kabbalah explains the healing process of the entire Creation

In the portion of the Torah read this week, we are told that there were eight kings "who ruled in the land of Edom" before any king ruled the children of Israel.

"And Bela ben Be'or ruled in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhavah. Bela died…
"And Yovav ben Zerach ruled in his place. Yovav died…
"And Chusham from the south land ruled in his place. Chusham died…
"And Hadad ben Badad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab, ruled in his place, and the name of his city was Avit. Hadad died…
"And Salmah from Masreikah ruled in his place. Salmah died…
"And Shaul from Rechovot HaNahar ruled in his place. Shaul died…
"And Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor ruled in his place. Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor died…
"And Hadar ruled in his place, and the name of his city was Pa'u. And his wife's name was Meheitavel bat Matreid bat Mei Zehav."
(Gen. 36:31-39) ...first, we must answer the following questions...

This account is repeated in the Book of Chronicles (Chronicles I 1:43-51) with minor changes, as will be noted.

We will now explain the mystery of these kings and their deaths. But first, we must answer the following questions:

  • Why, for only some of the kings (such as Bela ben Be'or and Hadad ben Badad), does the Torah mention the name of their cities?

  • Why does it mention the name of the wife only in the case of the last king?

  • Why, in the case of Hadad ben Badad, does the Torah tell us that he "smote Midian in the field of Moab", but does not tell us similar [historical details] about the other kings?

  • Why does the Torah tell us the names of four of the kings' fathers, and not those of the other four?

  • Why, in the case of the four kings whose fathers' names are given, does the Torah repeat the fathers' names when it tells us that they died in only case [i.e. that of Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor]?

  • Why, in the case of Chusham, does the Torah mention where he came from, but does not do so for the others?

  • Why does the Torah note the fact that the kings died, except for the last one?

Also, why are there [the following] differences between this passage and the parallel passage in Chronicles:

  • The Torah mentions the fact that "Bela ben Be'or ruled…," but the Book of Chronicles does not mention the fact that he ruled.

  • The Torah, in describing the death of Chusham, writes his name without a vav, while in the Book of Chronicles it is written with a vav.

  • The Torah records the name of Hadad's city as "Avit", while in the Book of Chronicles it is written as [if it is to be pronounced] "Ivat" [even though it is still read Avit].

  • In the Torah, it is written that "Ba'al Chanan ben Achbor died," while in the Book of Chronicles it is written that "Ba'al Chanan died," not mentioning his father's name.

  • In the Torah, the eighth king's name is "Hadar", ending with a reish, while in the Book of Chronicles it is given as "Hadad", ending with a dalet.

  • The Torah does not mention the eighth king's death, while in the Book of Chronicles it does mention his death.

  • In the Torah, the eighth king's city is given as "Pe'u", while in the Book of Chronicles it is given as "Pe'i".

These kings, who personify stringent judgment, originated only after chochma and bina came forth…

Know that the Zohar applies the account of these kings to [the state of affairs] before Arich Anpin was rectified and does the same regarding [the state of affairs] before Zeir Anpin was rectified and before Nukva of Zeir Anpin was rectified.

This refers to the passage in the Zohar (3:127b-145a) known as the Idra Rabba, which details the construction ("rectification") of the partzufim.

This is because the states of strict judgment [personified by these kings] came forth immediately after chochma and bina, whether in the case of chochma and bina of Arich Anpin, in the case of chochma and bina of Zeir Anpin, or in the case of chochma and bina of Nukva of Zeir Anpin. This is why the Zohar quotes the verse "And these were the kings that ruled in the land of Edom" in the case of Nukva only after having described [how] its chochma and bina [issue]. From this fact you can infer [that the same applies] with the others, for even though in their case, the Zohar cites this verse at the beginning [of its discussion of them], it means to apply it only after their chochma and bina have issued forth. In each of these three cases, [i.e. Arich Anpin, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva] these kings, who personify stringent judgment, originated only after chochma and bina came forth.

Chochma and bina (insight and comprehension) make up the abstract and objective side of the intellect. The subjective side of the intellect is daat. The objective intellect sees things in black and white, so to speak, and therefore engenders a strict outlook on life. Thus, after these sub-sefirot of these partzufim have issued, severe qualities of judgment follow. The supernal source of emanation had to rectify the mentalities of each of these partzufim

Therefore, the supernal source of emanation had to rectify the mentalities of each [of these partzufim] via the rectifications of the head and the rectifications of the beard, giving these three [partzufim] something of the duality of male and female, in order that male and female subsequently issue from them simultaneously.

The "rectifications of the head" and the "rectifications of the beard" are terms for the arrangement of the flow of divine consciousness from these partzufim to the ones below them. As we have seen previously, these arrangements are identified with G‑d's Attributes of Mercy.

The reason these states of severe judgment issue as soon as bina appears is as follows: Strict judgment is aroused in bina, as is known. These states of judgment were aroused to issue from it, but they did not endure in the female side until male and female came forth together. Some of them were "made fragrant" [i.e. sweetened] on the side of holiness, but some of them were not "made fragrant" and passed to the Other Side. The description of the kings in the Book of Genesis describes their existence in Zeir Anpin, while the description in the Book of Chronicles describes their existence in Nukva

Regarding how the kings [that issued] from Arich Anpin became null and died, the matter is "deep, deep, who can fathom it?" (Ecclesiastes 7:24) It is very hidden and not alluded to in the Torah at all. Only by understanding [what occurs] in the lower [partzufim] can we understand [what occurs] in the higher ones.

In contrast, the details of how the kings the ruled in Zeir Anpin and Nukva are alluded to in the Torah and in the Book of Chronicles.

The description of the kings in the Book of Genesis describes their existence in Zeir Anpin, while the description in the Book of Chronicles describes their existence in Nukva. (Rabbi Wolf Ashkenazi)

This is why it says in the Torah, "And these are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom…," but continues, "[Bela ben Be'or] ruled in Edom…," not repeating the words "the land of". "The land of Edom" signifies Nukva of Zeir Anpin, which is called "the land", while "Edom" [by itself] refers to Zeir Anpin, since [Esau, who is Edom] is parallel to Jacob, as it is written, "He is Esau, the father of Edom." (Gen. 36:43)

As we know, Jacob personified Zeir Anpin. In Gen. 36:1 and 36:8 it is stated explicitly that "Esau is Edom".

The Torah describes the kings who ruled in Zeir Anpin; it is therefore written "[Bela ben Be'or] ruled in Edom" [and not "…in the land of Edom"] in order to indicate that these states of stringent judgment existed in Zeir Anpin itself. These kings issued from bina of Zeir Anpin and sought to settle in Zeir Anpin but could not. The Torah therefore says "in Edom", since [Edom] is [in the words of the Zohar:] "where judgment is bound and connected," referring to bina of Zeir Anpin.

This explains why in the Zohar, when discussing the kings [who ruled] in Zeir Anpin, quotes as well the verse "And [Bela ben Be'or] ruled in Edom…", but when discussing the kings [who ruled] in Nukva, only quotes the verse "And these are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom". This is also why the Zohar [in the context of Nukva] mentions "…the place where all judgment is found, and these are the rectifications of the female".

Proof that the description of the kings within Arich Anpin is not alluded to in the Torah is in the fact that no mention of them is made in the Zohar [either]; they [the kings] are mentioned only in connection with Zeir Anpin and Nukva.

Now that we have demonstrated that these kings allude only to Zeir Anpin and Nukva and [that as they exist] in Arich Anpin they are hidden, all the discrepancies mentioned above in the Torah and the Book of Chronicles will be clear. For the [kings] mentioned in the Torah are those of Zeir Anpin and those mentioned in the Book of Chronicles are those of Nukva of Zeir Anpin. Therefore, regarding the kings of Zeir Anpin the Torah says "And [Bela ben Be'or] ruled in Edom…," while regarding those of Nukva the Book of Chronicles does not say "he ruled in Edom" [itself], only that they rule "in the land of Edom".

In the next installment Fall of the City of Knowledge, the Arizal will continue his exposition.


Adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, 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.

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].
Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, writer, editor and anthologist living in Jerusalem. He is a co-founder of Ascent Institute of Safed and one of the first contributing writers for KabbalaOnline.org. He has recently produced two monumental works: "Apples from the Orchard: Arizal on the Weekly Torah" (available for purchase from KabbalaOnline here) and a Chumash translation with commentary based on the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Kehot).
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