Returning to the matter, Ben Azzai and Rabbi Akiva were creators of souls for converts, while he (Rabbi Akiva) was away from his wife. Both of them were holy, this one from the side of gevura of Abel, and this one from the side of gevura of Cain. To come closer, Ben Azzai married the daughter of Rabbi Akiva.1

...Ben Azzai and Rabbi Akiva were creators of souls for converts...

Even though he did not consummate the marriage and he divorced her, nevertheless, he still performed the mitzvah of marriage. For through kidushin [the marriage ceremony] a man gives his wife an ohr makif [surrounding light] from his ruach. Ben Azzai, when he married Rabbi Akiva’s daughter, gave her this ruach in the secret of an ohr makif, and it remained with her forever. In this respect, Ben Azzai created an eternal bond with Rabbi Akiva.2

This is the secret of what Ben Azzai used to say to Rabbi Akiva, "All the Sages of Israel compared to me are like the peel of a garlic, except for this bald one". (Bechorot 58a) Without doubt, Ben Azzai was not, heaven forbid, putting himself above the wise of Israel in speaking this way or by referring to Rabbi Akiva disrespectfully as the "bald one".

Rather, the secret of the matter is that either all or most of the Sages were creating souls for converts through their Torah-learning. (Likutei Moharan) However, there is a difference, for there were among them those who could only bring souls from the kelipa called noga. However, Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azzai, after they brought them from there could also bring them to holiness, rectify them, and then give them to converts. This level was above that of all of the rest of the Sages of the generation, and this is what Ben Azzai referred to when he said that they are "as the peel of a garlic husk before me, except for this bald one".

The secret is this: In the limb of the sign of the brit milah [holy covenant of circumcision] there are two openings, the right one to produce a holy seed and the left one for dirty urine, the food of the kelipot. Between the two is a thin layer like the peel of garlic, and it is called kelipat nogah. Now, all the wise men of the generation could only bring souls from the kelipot hashum [garlic husk], and then bring them to the holy opening on the side of holiness. In this way, they brought them to holiness after which they drew them out of their bodies into the bodies of converts.

Why did Rabbi Akiva have this ability too? This is why he called him korach [bald one], because Korach the son of Yitzhar also comes from the root of Cain. He was called Korach because all the Levites had been completely shaven bald, because of the strong din that was in them.

Music itself takes the psyche out of din/depression and brings it into chesed/joy.

Hair is din. The inauguration of the Levites involved cutting off all of their hair. This sweetened any negative form of judgment from them and initiated them into their service of singing in the Temple. Music itself takes the psyche out of din/depression and brings it into chesed/joy. The Levites made music while the offerings were brought. The service in the Temple affected the whole world. In order to facilitate it, the Levites themselves had to be in a state of completely ameliorated din.

Rabbi Akiva was also from the root of Cain, which is the crown of gevura, and as a result of his piousness, all the hairs of his body were shaven which sweetened the strength of his din. Thus was he called Korach and was he able to bring convert souls from the actual place of holiness, as Ben Azzai did from the side of chesed, for it is there that the souls of converts are aroused.

This is also the secret of why Rabbi Akiva is called chasid [pious], though he was the crown of gevura. So the Talmud says: "They left Rabbi Akiva to his piousness". (Sanhedrin 110b) The Zohar also calls him the pious elder.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]