As is known, the word "Kabbala" means in Hebrew "parallel" or "correspondence". By paralleling the different structures and elements that exist within Creation, Kabbala demonstrates its underlying unity and how all Creation reflects and expresses the same divine powers that create it. In the following exposition, we will encounter in quick succession the main conceptual structures that correspond to the four letters of the divine name Havayah, which expresses the basic pattern of divine creative energy that sustains and informs all levels of reality.

Concerning the commandment of the sacrifices:

After the Torah discusses the construction of the Tabernacle in the Torah portions Terumah, Teztaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayakhel and Pekudei, it begins to discuss the ritual of the sacrifices that are offered in the Tabernacle. This is the subject of parashat Vayikra.

As is known, the divine name Havayah [alludes to the five principle partzufim of the world of Atzilut, as follows]: The [upper] thorn of the yud corresponds to Arich Anpin, the yud to Abba, the hei to Imma, the vav to Anpin, and the [final] hei to the Nukva [of Zeir Anpin].

The following chart summarizes the correspondences between the sefirot and the partzufim that develop out of them, adding the correspondence between the partzufim and the letters of G‑d's name Havayah.

sefira in Tohu partzuf in Tikun the name Havayah
keter Atik Yomin
("the Ancient of Days")
upper thorn of yud
. Arich Anpin
("the Long Face")
.
chochma Abba
("father")
yud
bina Imma
("mother")
hei
chesed, gevura, tiferet,
netzach, hod, yesod
Zeir Anpin
("the Small Face")
vav
malchut Nukva ("the female")
of Zeir Anpin
hei

Atik Yomin is not alluded to explicitly in the name Havayah, since it is considered the inner dimension of the outer partzuf of keter, Arich Anpin.

Now, corresponding to these, the Holy One, blessed be He, created [five "kingdoms" in this physical world]: the silent [i.e., inanimate or mineral], the vegetable, the animal, the articulate [i.e., man], and the soul. Creation unfolds through successive levels of consciousness of G‑d…

Creation unfolds through successive levels of consciousness of G‑d; each of these levels is called a "world". Every world is thus simply a projection of the preceding one onto a lower spiritual level. Thus, even our physical world reflects the spiritual structure of the highest spiritual realm, the world of Atzilut. The fact that the elements of this world may be organized into different "kingdoms" in accordance with the level of life they exhibit means that this hierarchy exists as well in the spiritual realms. The Arizal here tells us that the five "kingdoms" correspond to the five partzufim of the world of Atzilut from which they descend.

There are many ways in which these correspondences are evident. Malchut is described as "possessing nothing of its own", i.e. whatever content it possesses it receives from the other sefirot. In this sense, it may be considered to be "silent" or "inanimate". The most visible indication of a person's growth…is his emotional behavior…

The emotions (chesed to yesod) are the context in which a person's maturity develops. Although there is also a difference between a mature intellect and an immature one, the most visible indication of a person's growth and development on the ladder of humanity is his emotional behavior. The emotions are thus the "vegetative" aspect of the personality, that which exhibits growth and development.

The intellect, the chief sefira of which is bina, is the source of vitality and animation in a person. Only when a person understands the importance and significance of something does he get animated about it and pursue it. Thus, the sefira of bina is manifest in the world as the animal kingdom.

The insight (chochma) which recognizes the divine element of reality is what differentiates man from animal; thus, the manifestation of chochma in this world is the human being. Finally, the spiritual intent and purpose of Creation embodied in the sefira of keter manifests itself in the spiritual consciousness of man itself, his divine soul.

sefira in Tohu partzuf in Tikun the name Havayah Kingdom
keter Atik Yomin
("the Ancient of Days")
upper thorn of yud soul
. Arich Anpin
("the Long Face")
. .
chochma Abba
("father")
yud man
bina Imma
("mother")
hei animal
chesed, gevura,
tiferet, netzach,
hod, yesod
Zeir Anpin ("the Small Face") vav vegetable
malchut Nukva ("the female")
of Zeir Anpin
hei mineral

Now, from each of the four lower levels there are elements that need to be elevated and refined. All of these elements were rectified by the sacrifice.

All the worlds that were created subsequent to the world of Atzilut were constructed out of the fallen remains of the shattered world of Tohu, the immature version of Atzilut. These divine sparks from the world of Tohu are embedded within all aspects and facets of reality in all the lower worlds, including, of course, the lowest one, our physical world. By using any particular element of reality for a divine purpose, the spark enlivening it is released from its existential entrapment in anti-spirituality and ascends back to its source, spiritualizing reality in the process. When all the sparks will have been liberated in this way, the world will have attained its maximal spiritual potential and Mashiach will come. The Temple is the microcosm of Creation…

The prototypical example of this process is the sacrificial service in the Holy Temple. The Temple is the microcosm of Creation, and the rites performed within it are both symbolic of and actualizations of the wider divine service that mankind performs in the world at large.

To wit: Salt is a mineral, and through it the mineral kingdom was rectified. The wine and the oil [offered with the sacrifices] rectified the vegetable kingdom. The animals rectified the animal kingdom. The confession the animal's owner recited over the animal corresponds to the articulate kingdom [i.e., man]. The intention of the priest while he was offering the sacrifice corresponds to the soul within [man]. Through these five aspects of the sacrifice, the four "kingdoms" are elevated.

All animal sacrifices were salted when they were offered on the altar (see Lev. 2:13). Wine and oil were also offered along with most animal sacrifices (see Ex. 29:38-41). Immediately before the animal is slaughtered, the owner of the sacrifice must confess his sins (in the case of a sin offering or burnt offering) or express his thanksgiving and joy (in the case of other offerings) to G‑d.

The intention of the priest while offering the sacrifice is an essential aspect of the rite; if something is amiss in his intentions, it can render the sacrifice invalid. (Ref. Mishna Torah, Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 3:14-15.)

These [five aspects of the sacrifice] are the Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida.

In addition to manifesting themselves in the material reality of this world (and the "proto-material" reality of the spiritual worlds), the five partzufim correspond to the five aspects of the spiritual reality of Creation, i.e. the Divine Soul. They thus correspond as well to the five aspects of the sacrifice:

sefira in Tohu partzuf in Tikun the name Havayah aspect of sacrifice level of the soul
keter Atik Yomin
("the Ancient of Days")
upper thorn of yud the intention
of the priest
Yechida
.

Arich Anpin
("the Long Face")

. . .
chochma Abba ("father") yud the confession Chaya
bina Imma
("mother")
hei the animal Neshama
chesed, gevura,
tiferet, netzach,
hod, yesod
Zeir Anpin
("the Small Face")
vav the oil and wine Ruach
malchut Nukva ("the female")
of Zeir Anpin
hei the salt Nefesh
Fire is a symbol for malchut

The Nefesh ["life force"] is the behavioral aspect of the soul and thus corresponds to the sefira of malchut, the expression of the higher sefirot. The Ruach ["spirit"] is the emotional aspect of the soul, and thus corresponds to the emotional sefirot (the middot, from chesed to yesod). The Neshama ["breath" of life] is the intellectual aspect of the soul. The Chaya ["living one"] is the soul's innate wisdom, and the Yechida ["single one"] is the soul's identity within G‑d's essence.

This is the mystical meaning of the verse [describing the sacrifice]: "a fire offering, an aroma that is pleasing to G‑d"1, [as we will now explain]: The word "a fire offering" [in Hebrew, "isheh"] corresponds to Nefesh; since it is the feminine, this word can be also read to mean "woman" [in Hebrew, "ishah"]. Also, fire is a symbol for malchut, as in the phrase "a consuming fire" (Deut. 4:24, 9:3).

Creation…cannot bear the intensity of the revelation and is consumed…

The word "Nefesh" literally means "blowing"; this may be one conceptual link to fire, which one blows to increase. In addition, fire reduces the offering to its mineral constituents. Malchut, the sefira that corresponds to the soul-level of Nefesh, is the feminine principle in Creation. The phrase "a consuming fire" describes G‑d when revealed to Creation, which unless properly prepared cannot bear the intensity of the revelation and is consumed by it. The indwelling of G‑d in creation is the feminine aspect of G‑d, the Shechina, or Divine Presence.

The word for "aroma" [in Hebrew, "reiach"] corresponds to the Ruach, which in turn corresponds to the world of Yetzira and the partzuf of Zeir Anpin.

As opposed to the bland, inanimate characterization of Nefesh, Ruach is characterized as colorful and fragrant, due to it's being the location of the emotions. The words "reiach" and "ruach" are also obviously cognate to each other.

The four/five letters of the name Havayah, the five partzufim, the four/five kingdoms, the five aspects of the sacrifice, and the five levels of the soul, all correspond as well to the four/five worlds. We may thus expand the above charts as follows:

sefira in Tohu partzuf in Tikun the name Havayah aspect of sacrifice level of the soul World
keter Atik Yomin
("the Ancient of Days")
upper thorn of yud the intention
of the priest
Yechida Adam Kadmon
("Primordial Man")
. Arich Anpin
("the Long Face")
. . . .
chochma Abba
("Father")
yud the confession Chaya Atzilut
("Emanation")
bina Imma
("Mother")
hei the animal Neshama Beriya
("Creation")
chesed, gevura,
tiferet, netzach,
hod, yesod
Zeir Anpin
("the Small Face")
vav the oil and wine Ruach Yetzira
("Formation")
malchut Nukva ("the Female")
of Zeir Anpin
hei the salt Nefesh Asiya
("Action")

"…that is pleasing" corresponds to the partzuf of Imma, the Neshama of Beriya. "…to G‑d" corresponds to the inner soul of this Neshama, i.e. Abba. With it, we have constructed the full four-letter name Havayah. This is the secret of the phrase "a sacrifice to G‑d [Havayah]" (Lev. 1:2). [In offering a sacrifice,] the person sublimates the four powers [alluded to] in the name Havayah [and manifest in the four "kingdoms" of Creation], as we have mentioned.


Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Ta'amei HaMitzvot; 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.