In this portion of the Torah, we read about the cave of Machpela:

Abraham arose and bowed low to the people of the land, the Hittites, and he said to them, "If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Efron son of Tzohar, that he sell me the cave of Machpela that he owns, which is at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst."

Efron was seated among the Hittites; so Efron the Hittite answered Abraham so the Hittites could hear - all who had entry to the gate of his town - saying, 'No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.'

Then Abraham bowed low before the people of the land, and spoke to Efron so the people of the land could hear, saying, "If only you would hear me out! Let me pay the price of the field; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there."

Efron replied to Abraham, saying to him, "My lord, hear me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver - what is that between you and me? Go and bury your dead."

Abraham heard Efron's terms. Abraham paid out to Efron the money that he had named so the Hittites could hear - four hundred shekels of silver at the going merchants' rate.

So Efron's field in Machpela, near Mamre - the field with its cave and all the trees within the borders of that field- passed to Abraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of all who had entry to the gate of his town. And then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpela, facing Mamre - that is Hebron - in the land of Canaan. Thus the field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham, as a burial site. (Gen. 23:7-20)

The cave of Machpela is mentioned three more times in the Torah:

And his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried [Abraham] in the cave of Machpela in the field of Efron the son of Tzohar the Hittite. (ibid. 25:9)

Abraham knew that the Divine Presence was present in the field surrounding this cave….

"Bury me with my fathers, in the cave in the field of Efron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpela, opposite Mamre, in the Land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought from Efron the Hittite as a burial plot." (ibid. 49:29-30)

And his sons carried him to the Land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpela, the field that Abraham bought for a burial plot from Efron the Hittite, opposite Mamre. (ibid. 50:13)

The question is raised in the Zohar (I:128b) as to why once [in this passage] it is written "the cave of Machpela", another time it is written "the field of Machpela", and yet another time it is written "the cave of the field of Machpela".

The Zohar explains that the word "Machpela" refers to malchut, for "Machpela" means "doubled", and malchut is signified by the second hei of the name Havayah, the only letter that is doubled in this name. The "field of Machpela" refers to the fact that malchut is also called "the field of holy apples". Abraham knew that the Divine Presence, the Shechinah (synonymous with malchut) was present in the field surrounding this cave, and that's why he wanted to bury Sarah there. But he hid this knowledge from the Hittites and referred to the cave simply as "the cave of Machpela", not mentioning the field. When the Torah itself describes the area, however it uses the word "field".

The Arizal now elaborates on this explanation.

The explanation is as follows:

Both the higher Imma, which is bina, and the lower Imma, which is malchut, are manifest through a name Havayah spelled out with the letter hei, and whose numerical value is 52 [known as "Ban", the numerical value of which is 52].

Ban is spelled: yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei (10 + 6 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 6 + 6 + 5 + 5 = 52).

This [name] is actually the name Havayah doubled, for the numerical value of the letters used to spell it out is 26, just like the numerical value of the simple, root letters.

yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei: 10 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26.

yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei: 6 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26.

Thus, the whole 52-name can be seen as a simple doubling of the name Havayah, 52 being twice 26.

[Furthermore,] each individual letter is doubled numerically. The numerical value of the [first] letter, yud, is 10, and the combined numerical value of the two letters used to spelling it out, vav-dalet, is also 10. Similarly, the last three letters [of the name Havayah], hei-vav-hei are spelled out with the same three letters, hei-vav-hei.

The last three letters are spelled out by simply doubling them.

Therefore, this name in general is called "the Machpela", for it is a double [of the name Havayah].

The word "Machpela" means "double", from the root kaf-pei-lamed.

The first hei of them all is the origin….

Now, this name possesses four hei's, i.e. the two hei's of the name Havayah and the two hei's used to spell them out. These correspond to four subdivisions of the supernal Imma, i.e. two states of Bina and two states of Tevuna, as we have explained elsewhere.

Elsewhere (Etz Chaim 14:9, principle 5; 27:4), however, the Arizal explains that the four subdivisions of Imma are as follows: Its chochma-bina-daat are called "the supernal Imma"; its chesed-gevura-tiferet are called "the first Tevuna"; its netzach-hod-yesod are called "the second Tevuna"; its malchut is called "the third Tevuna." According to this, there is one state of Bina and three states of Tevuna.

In general, Tevuna is "applied intellect" as opposed to Bina, which is "abstract intellect". It would thus make sense that Bina would only be the chochma-bina-daat of Imma, i.e. the intellect of the intellect, while the other components of the intellect would be its applications to emotion, behavior, and expression.

These are the four partzufim within [Imma]. Sometimes these join together and are included together, and they are then called "the supernal Imma", which includes them all within herself.

This is the significance of the name Ban of the supernal Imma, which includes the four aforementioned subdivisions.

In a parallel way, the lower "mother", malchut, subdivides into four distinct subdivisions, corresponding to the four hei's in her Ban, which encompasses them all. Understand this well.

Rabbi Chaim Vital notes later, however, that it is not clear what these four subdivisions of malchut are.

There are thus three strata in the meaning of the word Machpela as "doubled": (1) the fact that the hei appears twice in the name Havayah, (2) the fact that each of these hei's is spelled out with another hei in the name Ban, giving four hei's, and (3) the fact that there is a name Ban in both Imma and Nukva, giving 8 hei's.

Having discussed what the four hei's are in both the Ban of Imma and the Ban of Nukva, the Arizal now considers again the original four hei's: the two hei's of the name Havayah and the two hei's used to spell them out.

The first hei of them all is the origin, and is called "the cave of Machpela". It by itself is called "the cave", but since implicit within it is the hei used to spell it out, it is called "the cave of Machpela".

The first hei by itself is called "the cave" since it something that has something inside it, just like a cave is a hollow that can contain something else. When it is considered together with its implicit contents, the hei used to spell it out, it is called "the cave of Machpela", i.e. the cave containing its own double.

The second hei, i.e. the spelling out of the first, origin-hei, is called "Machpela" by itself. As it is written, "So Efron's field in Machpela…," for it is the doubled hei, as we said.

In this verse, the word "Machpela" is used by itself, not describing a field or cave. The doubled hei is simply called "the double", "Machpela".

The third hei, the original lower [hei of the name Havayah], is called "the field of Machpela". The fourth hei, the one used to spell out the original lower hei, is called "the cave of the field of Machpela".

The second hei of the name Havayah refers to malchut, the partzuf of Nukva. This sefira/partzuf is synonymous with the Divine Presence, the Shechinah, which is also known as "the field of holy apples".

The imagery of the fourth hei, as a "cave", seems to be the reverse of the cave-imagery for the first hei. Here, the cave is the place where the thing in it is revealed.

There is also a fifth aspect, which is known only as "the cave" without any modifier. This is a manifestation of the letter hei spelled out with the letter yud or alef. In either of these cases, it is not doubled.

Sometimes the Machpela cave is referred to simply as "the cave", This refers to the letter hei when not doubled, but spelled out with either a yud (as it is in the name Av, =72, and Sag, =63) or an alef (as it is in the 45-name).

The numerical value of this name is also that of the word for "with everything" [in Hebrew, "bakol"], and it is known that the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, merited "with everything" ["bakol"], "from everything" [in Hebrew, "mikol"], and "everything" ["kol"]. (Bava Batra 17a) Therefore, the three of them were buried in this [cave].

Immediately after Abraham purchased the Machpela cave and buried Sarah in it, we are told that "Abraham was old, having arrived in days, and G‑d blessed Abraham with everything." (Gen. 24:1) The word for "with everything" is "bakol". The numerical value of "bakol" is 52: beit-kaf-lamed = 2 + 20 + 30 = 52.

G‑d gave the Patriarchs a foretaste of the Future World….

It is stated in the Talmud that G‑d gave the Patriarchs a foretaste of the Future World while they were still in This World. For Abraham, this is alluded to by the verse just quoted: "and G‑d blessed Abraham with everything [in Hebrew, 'bakol']."

For Isaac, the allusion is found in the episode wherein Jacob stole the blessings he intended to bestow on Esau. Jacob first fed Isaac some food, and about this food, Jacob later told Esau, "he brought it to me before you came and I ate of all [in Hebrew, 'mikol'] of it, and I blessed him, and blessed he shall remain" (ibid. 27:33); the Sages say (Rashi ad loc) that by this Isaac meant that he tasted all the tastes he sought to taste in it, i.e. that it was heavenly food, like the manna. When Isaac smelled Jacob before eating his food, he said that he recognized the smell of the Garden of Eden on him, so we may presume that this was the taste he sought to taste in the food (and did), as well.

For Jacob, the allusion is in the episode of his encounter with Esau after returning from Laban. Jacob prepared a gift for Esau, but Esau tried to refuse it. Jacob persisted, however, and said, "Please take my blessing, which has been brought to you, for G‑d has been gracious to me, and I have all ['kol']." (Gen. 33:11) Here also, this "all" refers to G‑d's grace beyond material bounty, the taste of the World to Come.

Inasmuch as the Machpela cave embodied the divine consciousness of the Shechinah, which will be revealed in the Future World, the Patriarchs were buried there.

This is [also] the mystical meaning of [the Sages' statement that] Abraham had a daughter named "Bakol" (Bava Batra 16b).

The Sages say that the verse quoted above, "and G‑d blessed Abraham with everything ['bakol']," also alludes to the fact that Abraham had a daughter named Bakol.

She personified the name Ban of malchut, which is the "daughter".

The four names Havayah (possessing the numerical values of 72, 63, 45, and 52, known as Ab, Sag, Mah, and Ban) correspond respectively to the four partzufim Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva. Zeir Anpin and Nukva are the "son" and "daughter" of Abba (the father) and Imma (the mother).

The fact that this daughter is mentioned immediately after Abraham acquired the Machpela cave (even though she must have been born before this, i.e. before Sarah died) indicates that there is a thematic connection between her and this cave. This connection is the fact that the cave expresses the name Ban (=52) and that the numerical value of her name is 52. The Torah effectively tells us that Abraham was blessed with a "daughter", i.e. with malchut, the divine consciousness of the Future World, only when he purchased the Machpela cave, since this cave embodied this divine consciousness.

So did the master [i.e. the Arizal] explain this verse, saying that the numerical value of "Bakol" is the same as the name Ban [=52], spelled out with the letter hei. [This name] is called the daughter of Abraham, our father.

[I, Rabbi] Chaim [Vital], the recorder [of these teachings] would like to add:

The explanation of the aforementioned four subdivisions of malchut is not clear to me right now. It could be that [the partzufim of] Leah and Rachel correspond to the upper and lower hei [of the name Havayah of Imma], which in turn correspond to Bina and Tevuna. Each of these has its own malchut, which are two other hei's within the spelling-out of the first hei's.

As we have seen previously, Leah originates in malchut of Bina, while Rachel originates in malchut of Tevuna. Leah is associated with thought, which we use more to think about abstract intellect, while Rachel is associated with speech, which we use more to talk about applied intellect.

Or, it could be that all four are within Rachel, as we have explained in our exposition of Rosh Hashanah regarding the first blessing of the Standing Prayer, with reference to the four beginnings of the year. According to this, there are four partzufim within Rachel alone, which sometimes combine to form one collective partzuf, just like the supernal Imma.

In the Ultimate Future…there will be no need for the soul to experience such processed divine consciousness….

Based on the above, it is explained in Chasidut that the two hei's manifest in the cave of Machpela are the Lower and Upper Garden of Eden, the abode the soul in the afterlife. In the Lower Garden of Eden, the soul receives its reward for the physical performance of the commandments it fulfilled in this world, while in the Upper Garden of Eden it receives its reward for the intellectual and emotional intentions it invested into performing these commandments.

The two hei's become manifest as the two levels of the Garden of Eden because the form of the hei indicates expansion into dimensions: the three lines that make up the hei indicate the three dimensions of breadth, length, and depth (the disconnected leg of the hei is seen as a line going perpendicular to the plane defined by the two connected legs). In order for the soul to experience divinity, it has to assume "dimensions", that is, it has to be expressed in a way that a sentient being can integrate it into its own consciousness.

This "translation" of divinity into a form that the soul can integrate is indicated by the doubling of the hei. The second hei latent within the first is revelation of the expression implicit within the hei itself.

In contrast to the two hei's are the yud and the vav. The yud indicates tzimtzum ("contraction"), the initial contraction divinity must undergo in order for the process of creation to take place. The vav is seen as a further type of tzimtzum, a yud that has been extended downward as a straight line. These contractions are not a "fleshing out" of the divine consciousness with dimensions: the yud and vav are not spelled out with the letter hei. The yud is spelled out with a vav, which indicates further contraction, plus a dalet, which comes close to being a hei (and is its source) but still lacks the true relief of three dimensions. The vav is spelled out with another vav, indicating further contraction.

In the Ultimate Future, after the soul returns from its temporary abode in the afterlife and is resurrected in the rectified physical world, there will be no need for the soul to experience such "processed" divine consciousness, i.e. there will be no need for the name Havayah to be spelled out. The hei's of the name will be able to experience the yud and vav directly, and in fact the vav will not be necessary. In the Future, the name Havayah will be spelled yud-hei-yud-hei, indicating that both thought and speech will be able to express divine consciousness in its fullest form. This is alluded to in the verse, "On that day, G‑d [yud-hei-vav-hei] will be [spelled yud-hei-yud-hei] one, and His Name will be one." (Zechariah 14:9)

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah and Shaar HaPesukim, parashat Chaya Sara; 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.