"And G‑d appeared to [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre." (Gen. 18:1)

All that we are required to rectify in this world is only for the purpose of causing Zeir Anpin and Nukva to couple. For we receive the means of livelihood, divine beneficence, and children only from them, who are our [spiritual] father and mother.

G‑d has set up the creational order such that He channels our needs into the physical world via the spiritual world. The latter must therefore be functioning properly in order for the channels of divine blessing to flow properly. In this context, the divine blessings are the "offspring" of the union of the spiritual male and female antecedents of our own souls.

Thus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai interpreted the verse: "Your father and mother will rejoice" (Proverbs 23:25) to mean that "your father" is the Holy One, blessed be He, and "your mother" is the Community of Israel. (Zohar III:55a, 61b, 119a, 156a, 240b; Berachot 35b)

These are appellations of Zeir Anpin and Nukva, respectively.

The divine emotional attributes…must possess mature, adult intellect….

Nonetheless, we are also required to rectify, together with them, the coupling of Abba and Imma, so that intellect descends [from them] to [Zeir Anpin and Nukva] that will enable the latter to couple. Then, divine beneficence, food, and children and all other needs will descend [into the material world] from them.

In order for Zeir Anpin and Nukva - the divine emotional attributes and their means of expression - to couple fruitfully, they must possess mature, adult intellect. Otherwise their union will be subject to what we might call the vagaries of immaturity, i.e. of undeveloped emotions whose self-orientation will prevent them from interacting smoothly with each other. This maturity they receive from their "parents", Abba and Imma, i.e. from the divine intellect proper. But in order for Abba and Imma to transfer intellectual consciousness and perspective to Zeir Anpin and Nukva, they themselves must couple properly.

We must therefore question what our sages, of blessed memory, said, namely, that "The Holy One, blessed be He, will not enter the Upper Jerusalem until He will enter the Lower Jerusalem" .(Taanit 5a)

Jerusalem is the 'home' into which the male principle enters in order to couple with the awaiting female principle….

G‑d "entering" Jerusalem is an appellation for the coupling of the male and female principles, alluded to by the terms "the Holy One" and "Jerusalem", respectively. More precisely, Jerusalem is the "home" into which the male principle enters in order to couple with the awaiting female principle. In its plain meaning, this statement refers to the spiritual antecedent of Jerusalem and the physical Jerusalem, but in its mystical meaning, it implies that Abba and Imma do not couple unless Zeir Anpin and Nukva do so first.

This cannot be, for those above [Abba and Imma] are called "the companions that never separate" (Zohar III:4a) as opposed to those below [Zeir Anpin and Nukva] who are called "lovers", who do not couple constantly but only on known occasions.

Why, indeed, are [Abba and Imma] called "companions that never separate"? It is stated in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar, introduction 1b, 21b) in reference to the verse, "you shall send away, send away the mother" (Deut. 22:1), that this implies two divorces, that of the Supernal Shechinah and that of the Lower Shechinah.

The Supernal Shechinah is Imma and the Lower Shechinah is Nukva.

This is alluded to [more explicitly] in the words "the mother" [in Hebrew, "et ha-eim"]: The direct particle ["et"] alludes to the lower "mother", which encompasses all the letters of the alphabet, from alef to tav.

In Hebrew, the direct object (here, "the mother") is usually preceded by an untranslated particle, "et", spelled alef-tav. Inasmuch as malchut (Nukva) is the means of expression, i.e. thought, speech, and action, it encompasses the entire language of expression. These are the "letters" of thought, the letters of speech, and the "letters" of action.

Nukva is the lower "mother", the source of the world below it.

The word "mother" [itself] refers to the supernal "mother" [Imma].

It thus appears that there is a situation in which Imma is "divorced" from Abba. How then can the Zohar insist that their union is continuous?

There are two types of coupling, one external and one internal….

The answer is that there are two types of coupling, one external and one internal. The external one is never lacking and requires no arousal from below, and exists in order to sustain all the worlds. As our sages state, "[marital relations] are good for the woman, good for the embryo, and good for the milk." (Nidah 31a)

The external, superficial coupling of Abba and Imma is indeed continuous, and supplies all reality with the minimal life-force it requires in order to continue to exist.

The statement of the Sages reads: "During the first three months of pregnancy, marital relations are harmful to the woman and to the embryo; during the middle three months, they are harmful for the woman but good for the embryo; during the final three months, they are good for the woman and good for the embryo." Presumably, the Arizal is referring to the final trimester, when the woman is most visibly a mother.

The second is for the sake of issuing new souls into the world. It is with reference to this coupling that "The Holy One, blessed be He swears that He will not enter the Upper Jerusalem until He enters the Lower Jerusalem."

The term "new souls" means both literally new souls that will invest physical bodies, and all new spiritual revelations of divine consciousness.

The meaning is that [He will not enter the higher Jerusalem] until Zeir Anpin and Nukva are ready to enter. The meaning cannot be to really enter, for the purpose of their coupling [i.e. that of Zeir Anpin and Nukva] is to elicit [new] souls from Abba and Imma, and if Abba and Imma to do not elicit mature mentality for themselves, how can it descend from them to Zeir Anpin and Nukva? The order followed in the transmission of [new] souls is as follows: Zeir Anpin and Nukva elicit them from Abba and Imma; Abba and Imma elicit them from Arich Anpin; and Arich Anpin elicits them from Atik Yomin, and so on, to the end of all levels, for "the higher one is presided over by a higher one yet, [and there are yet higher ones above them]." (Ecclesiastes 5:7) Judgment is predominant in the feminine archetype, while inclusiveness predominates in the male archetype….

Therefore, the words "until He enters…" mean "until they are ready to enter".

From all this, it follows that our main task is to rectify Zeir Anpin and Nukva and cause them to couple, and that the principle coupling consists of the sweetening of the states of gevura [of Nukva] by coupling them with the states of chesed, i.e. the coupling of gevura with the states of chesed.

Gevura (judgment) is predominant in the feminine archetype, while chesed (inclusiveness) predominates in the male archetype.

Know that the states of gevura within the feminine archetype are embodied in the [final] letters mem-nun-tzadik-pei-chaf, whose combined numerical value is 280.

These five letters possess final forms, which indicate the stopping of the flow of meaning in the word.

mem-nun-tzadik-pei-chaf = 40 + 50 + 90 + 80 + 20 = 280.

With this you will be able to understand a deep secret. Namely, the one who gave Abraham the advice to circumcise himself was Mamre, who personified the states of gevura. For the numerical value of his name is 280 plus the kolel.

When G‑d commanded Abraham to circumcise himself, he consulted with Einar, Eshkol, and Mamre. Einar said, "You will make yourself a cripple. The relatives of the kings you killed will come and kill you." (Another opinion: Einar told him, "You're already 99 years old; why subject yourself to this pain?") Eshkol said, "You are old; if you cut yourself you will bleed to death." (Another opinion: Eshkol said, "Why arouse the wrath of your enemies [who oppose doing anything that promotes consciousness of the Divine]?") Mamre said, "Your G‑d stood by you in the fiery furnace, in the famine, in your war against the kings, and if He asks you to circumcise yourself you won't listen?"1

"Mamre" is spelled: mem-mem-reish-alef = 40 + 40 + 200 + 1 = 281.

280 signifies, as we saw, the states of gevura, which seek to couple and thereby be sweetened.

As long as Abraham was uncircumcised, he could not couple, for the supernal chesed that is revealed in the mouth of Imma withdraws when it reaches the foreskin. [Mamre] therefore advised him to circumcise himself.

The mouth of Imma signifies malchut of Imma, the expression of the intellect as it passes from Imma to Zeir Anpin. If the chesed issuing from Imma to Zeir Anpin encounters a foreskin, a blockage, in the yesod of Zeir Anpin, it recedes back into Imma. Zeir Anpin is thus left without the full mentality of Imma, and cannot properly couple with Nukva.

As we know, Abraham had three friends: Einar, Eshkol, and Mamre. Einar personified the states of gevura within Zeir Anpin, which number 320, this being the numerical value of Einar.

"Einar" is spelled: ayin-nun-reish = 70 + 50 + 200 = 320.

Eshkol personified yesod [of Zeir Anpin], which is associated with the name Sha-dai, and causes the states of chesed within the name Eh-yeh, which is associated with Imma, to descend. This is indicated by the fact that the numerical value of the regression of Eh-yeh is 44, as you know, and thus the combined numerical value [of this regression] and the name Sha-dai is the same as that of Eshkol [plus the kolel].

"Eshkol" is spelled: alef-shin-kaf-vav-lamed = 1 + 300 + 20 + 6 + 30 = 357.

"Eh-yeh" is spelled: alef-hei-yud-hei.

Its regression is:

alef alef-hei alef-hei-vav alef-hei-vav-hei

= 1 + (1 + 5) + (1 + 5 + 10) + (1 + 5 + 10 + 5)

= 4(1) + 3(5) + 2(10) + 1(5)

= 4 + 15 + 20 + 5

= 44.

"Sha-dai" is spelled: shin-dalet-yud = 300 + 4 + 10 = 314.

44 + 314 = 358.

Eshkol thus signifies the effect of the name Sha-dai [yesod of Zeir Anpin] on the name Eh-yeh [Imma].

This is the meaning of [the name Sha-dai as the One] "Who sustains and provides for all".

The name Sha-dai, as we shall see, is explained in various ways. Here, it is taken to mean "whose Divine power suffices to sustain all reality" [See Rashi on Gen. 17:1].

(It could be that the phrase "who sustains and provides for all" alludes to the name Eshkol, the last syllable of which, "kol", means "all".)

This is why [yesod] is called "Sha-dai", for it is the external dimension of yesod, which [participates in] the external coupling, which causes everything [else] to couple and provides for everything, as we explained regarding Imma. This means that just as Imma participates in two types of coupling, so do Zeir Anpin and Nukva participate in two types of coupling.

Just as with Abba and Imma, the external, superficial coupling of Zeir Anpin and Nukva channels the basic life-force necessary to keep the world functioning.

These are the states of gevura within yesod. As our sages explained, the name Sha-dai means that [G‑d] is the one who said "enough" to His world (Chagigah 12a). [This name] gives strength and [the ability to] limit to the states of gevura, for the [unhindered] states of chesed extend without limit.

The name Sha-dai describes G‑d as simultaneously being powerful enough to provide infinitely, and powerful enough to limit the inherent nature of Creation….

If the attribute of chesed had operated unchecked during Creation, the world would have gone on being created infinitely. The attribute of gevura, powered by the name Sha-dai, limited and reigned in the attribute of chesed.

Thus, the name Sha-dai describes G‑d as simultaneously being powerful enough to provide infinitely, and powerful enough to limit the inherent nature of Creation to extend without limit.

They also said [that the name Sha-dai means that G‑d] overrides the natural order [See Ramban on Gen. 17:1]. This is [also] done through the states of gevura.

G‑d is the only one with the power and ability to override the natural order He established.

Thus, we see that all three explanations of the name Sha-dai reflect its association with the states of gevura within yesod.

Thus, Einar and Eshkol respectively personify the gevura-states within Zeir Anpin as a whole -and within yesod of Zeir Anpin in particular. Neither of these gevura-states are sweetened by the coupling of Zeir Anpin and Nukva. Only the gevura-states of Nukva itself are so affected.

These two, i.e. Einar and Eshkol, are not sweetened by coupling. They therefore did not advise Abraham to circumcise himself, for they would gain nothing by it.

But Mamre, whose main sweetening occurs through coupling, did advise Abraham to circumcise himself. For as long as Abraham was uncircumcised, chesed withdrew from him and he [i.e. Mamre] could not be sweetened. He therefore advised him to circumcise himself.

This is the meaning of "And G‑d appeared to him…", i.e. now that chesed has been revealed in the mouth of Imma, because Abraham circumcised himself, the Shechinah appeared to him, in order to receive these states of chesed.

Nukva prepared to receive the states of chesed that would sweeten her inherent gevura.

And how did the Shechinah appear to him? "…In the plains of", meaning "in the strength of": G‑d revealed Himself to Abraham in the strength of the states of gevura, which are alluded to by the word "…Mamre", whose numerical value is 280, as we explained. [The states of gevura revealed themselves to Abraham] in order to be sweetened by the coupling [of Zeir Anpin and Nukva].

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from 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.