Before his death, Moses blessed the Jewish people: "May G‑d, the G‑d of your forefathers increase you a thousand fold." To this, the Jewish people replied, "Moses! You are setting a limit to our blessing (by limiting it to a thousand fold increase)! The Holy One, blessed be He, has already promised Abraham: 'I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth' meaning, if a person can count the dust of the earth, so will he be able to count your offspring. Moses replied, "What I said is my own blessing [i.e. the maximum extent to which I can bless you]. But as for G‑d, He will indeed 'bless you as He spoke of you.'" (Rashi, ibid.)

To understand this, let us note that the numerical value of "Moses" [in Hebrew, "Moshe" = 345] is the same as that of the divine name E-l Sha-dai.

"Moshe" is spelled: mem-shin-hei = 40 + 300 + 5 = 345.

"E-l Sha-dai" is spelled: alef-lamed, shin-dalet-yud

When these names are spelled out and the kolel is added, their numerical value is 1000.

 alef alef-lamed-pei 1 + 30 + 80 111 lamed lamed-mem-dalet 30 + 40 + 4 74 shin shin-yud-nun 300 + 10 + 50 360 dalet dalet-lamed-tav 4 + 30 + 400 434 yud yud-vav-dalet 10 + 6 + 4 20 TOTAL = 1000

This 1000 [in Hebrew, "elef"] is the 1000 of bina, for these divine names are located there; this is the mystical meaning of the statement: "Alef-beit, alef-bina."

In the Talmud, the meanings of the names of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are interpreted as a sequence: "The Rabbis told Rabbi Joshua ben Levi: 'Children have come to the house of study and said things the like of which was not said even in the days of Joshua the son of Nun: "'Alef beit' [means] 'learn understanding' ['alef bina']. 'Gimel dalet', [means] 'show kindness to the poor' ['gemol dalim'], and so on. (Shabbat 104a)

Moses…could only impart to them the spiritual potentials associated with Imma….

The phrase "alef-beit" is interpreted as "learn understanding" since the word alef also means "to learn", and the word for "understanding", "bina", begins with the letter beit.

The word "alef" is spelled the same way as the word for "one thousand", "elef". Thus, the phrase "alef-bina" may also be read, "the thousand of bina", giving the relationship between the number 1000, the numerical value of the spelling out of the names E-l Sha-dai.

In the parallel passage in Likutei Torah, Moses and the names E-l Sha-dai are described as being in the world of Beriya rather than in the partzuf of Imma (of Atzilut). This accords with the fact that the partzuf of Imma "nests" in the world of Beriya, i.e. that bina is the dominant consciousness of the world of Beriya (while chochma is the dominant consciousness of Atzilut, the emotions are the dominant consciousness of Yetzira, and malchut is the dominant consciousness of Asiya).

This is also the significance of the "one million shield-bearers of the first world", mentioned [in the Zohar].

In the Zohar, one of the appellations of the world of Beriya is "the one million shield-bearers". (Zohar III:132a; see Chasdei David #118) One million is a thousand thousands, i.e. 1000 entities inter-included amongst themselves. This world is called "shield-bearers", since it is the first world in which the energy of holiness must be protected from the forces of evil, just as bina must be protected from the sensation of ego that accompanies understanding and integrating an insight of chochma.

Now, Moses' power [to bless] reached [only] as far [up] as Imma; this is why he blessed them to increase [only] a thousand fold.

This is perhaps related to the idea of the "a thousand lights" that were detracted from Moses' understanding of the Torah because of the sin of the Golden Calf and are returned to his soul every Shabbat. (See our excerpt on parashat VaEtchanan, first installment.

G‑d's blessing transcends the limits of understanding and is infinite…

Evidently, since Moses' task is to teach the Torah to the Jewish people, meaning to make them understand it, he could only impart to them the spiritual potentials associated with Imma, the partzuf of bina, understanding.

But as for G‑d Himself, "He will bless you [as He spoke concerning you," i.e. infinitely] from the supernal partzuf of Abba.

G‑d's blessing transcends the limits of understanding and is infinite, this being the experience of insight, or chochma. Hence we see that intellectual understanding is a limited form of connection to G‑d, and that our connection to Him must be predicated on assumptions and involvement that transcends intellect. In this way we can "access" His infinity as well, and produce an infinite "progeny" of shades of heightened divine consciousness with which to "populate" reality.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim 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.